A push to ban assault weapons in Vermont has been shelved. Sen. Phil Baruth, D-Chittenden County, introduced the bill earlier this month. It would have banned assault-style weapons and capped the number of rounds in a magazine to five.
Baruth says he was inspired to write the bill after the Connecticut school shootings. But now he says there is not enough support in the Statehouse or among Vermonters to pass it.
Baruth sent a statement to his colleagues Sunday saying he would abandon the legislation. Monday, he refused to do an interview, but released this statement:
"After much thought, I've decided to withdraw S32, a proposed ban on assault weapons. It was a difficult decision, and one I fear will disappoint those who have written expressing their support. I began thinking about the bill after the Gabby Giffords shootings in Arizona, thought more seriously about it following Aurora, and had it finally drafted in the wake of Sandy Hook. It seemed to me that with the Federal government paralyzed, it had been left to the states to address both the mental health and gun-related components of these tragedies.
But it is painfully clear to me now that little support exists in the Vermont Statehouse for this sort of bill. It's equally clear that focusing the debate on the banning of a certain class of weapons may already be overshadowing measures with greater consensus, like tightening background checks, stopping the exchange of guns for drugs, and closing gun show loopholes. Finally, as incoming Majority Leader, I owe it to my caucus to remove an issue that seems increasingly likely to complicate our shared agenda this biennium.
To the many responsible gun-owners with whom I've communicated over the last several weeks: I've heard you. Please hear me when I say that government is not your enemy - we are all alike threatened by the kind of violence we saw in Newtown, violence that is clearly spreading. And all of us are responsible for stopping it. It's my hope that with this ban set aside, you'll join more willingly in that effort."
Saturday, gun rights activists rallied at the Vt. Statehouse in opposition to Baruth's proposal. The bill would have reinstated in Vermont a now-expired federal assault weapons ban.
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