I don’t know if the Ted Kenney campaign will have the gall to capitalize on Monday’s fatal shooting in Burlington, but if they don’t shout it from the rooftops, they will surely whisper it in the shadows. It seems like a political gift from the heavens for a tough-on-crime candidate looking to displace a progressive prosecutor.
But here’s the thing that caught my eye:
Using an AR-15 rifle, Dixon shot 22-year-old Kayla Noonan, a UVM student from New Jersey, and another 22-year-old woman who police have not identified, striking her multiple times, [Burlington Police Chief Jon] Murad said. Dixon subsequently shot and killed himself, the chief said.
Noonan was pronounced dead at the scene.
An AR-15, the gun of choice for mass murderers. Available for purchase just about anywhere.
Yeah, that’s not Sarah Fair George’s fault.
We pause for a journalistic curiosity. The VTDigger story, quoted above, identifies the fatal weapon. The Seven Days account does not, although it’s tagged “AR-15.” Late deletion by an editor?
We have yet to learn where and how the gunman acquired his AR-15. Was it an impulse buy? Did he get a background check? Did he buy it, Paul Heintz style, in the parking lot of a shopping mall?
Whatever, this can be laid directly at the feet of Vermont’s lax gun laws and the failure by the Legislature and Governor Phil Scott to proactively address gun safety instead of reacting to events. Because, no matter what the circumstances, Burlington is no place for an AR-15.
City Councilors Joe Magee, Perri Freeman and Gene Bergman, who represent the Old North End where the shootings took place, issued a statement today citing a bit of relevant history. In 2014, city voters overwhelmingly approved three gun-related charter changes. The least popular of the three got 61% of the vote. The people of Burlington spoke loudly about what they wanted their laws to say.
But thanks to vigorous lobbying by gun-rights groups and the Legislature’s generally milquetoast ways, the changes were rejected in the Statehouse.
(It grinds my guts, by the way, that communities have to go begging to the Legislature to change how they govern themselves. But that’s another story.)
The councilors say the state should, “at a minimum,” approve those charter changes. They say gun violence is “a national epidemic and a public health emergency,” which is (a) true and (b) something Sarah Fair George can’t control.
Nor can Ted Kenney.
At the time of the charter debate, the gun-rights crowd brayed about the hypothetical plight of the rural dude driving through town and getting in trouble for having a gun in his pickup truck. Happens all the time, I’m sure.
That thing that happens rarely if ever shouldn’t stand in the way of adopting laws that suit the city of Burlington. And if this incident is turned into a talking point, the Councilors have got it right. It’s not an issue that’s relevant to the race for State’s Attorney.