Shumlin tweaks gun control message for national audience - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Shumlin tweaks gun control message for national audience

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Photo: Rodney Lamkey Jr. Photo: Rodney Lamkey Jr.

"We don't go out and shoot up innocent kids in Vermont. We don't use guns of war to go after innocent people," said Gov. Peter Shumlin, at a forum in Washington DC, sponsored by the news outlet Politico.

Shumlin was pressed on gun control.

"Clearly you are going to have to do some things in this country that get magazines that can pop off 60-70 bullets when you pull the trigger -- no one is hunting a white tail deer with one of those.  Lets do some sensible things that get them out of the hands of people who shouldn't have them," Shumlin said.

Politico: Ok, just to be clear, you want universal background checks? 

Gov. Shumlin: I don't think there are too many rational people who would object to background checks.  

Politico: So universal background checks, and then some restriction on the size of the magazine?

Gov. Shumlin: Yes.

During the campaign, candidate Shumlin filled out a questionnaire seeking the NRA's backing. Seven Days printed the survey after the Newtown shootings. It shows Shumlin said he does not support any restrictions on guns, magazine size or increased background checks in Vermont.

Here's more of what he said Friday in Washington.

Politico: But you don't want to see a ban on assault weapons?  

Gov. Shumlin: It depends.  I keep saying it depends how city boys define an assault weapon.

After the Newtown tragedy Shumlin declined interviews and issued a statement calling for a national conversation on gun control.  Until now, he has not offered details, but consistently answers questions saying change needs to come from Washington. "If you don't buy your weapon of war in Vermont, New Hampshire -- you buy it at some gun show in another state. Or you buy it from a state with less restrictive regulations. We really need a 50 state strategy," Shumlin told reporters in December.

Reached by phone in between meetings in Washington, the governor maintained what he said Friday is not new.  But he would not give any specifics or repeat what he had said hours earlier. "Well, I actually repeated what I've said in Vermont -- which is common sense, good 'ol common sense would lead us to know state by state positions won't work.  We need a 50 state solution.  And I have confident in the President and Vice President and Congress to come up with something that is sensible and I'm going to wait and see what they come up with," Shumlin said.

Political Analyst Chris Graff said Shumlin is taking a similar position to Senator Patrick Leahy on gun control -- in that both politicians have not been roped into defining what guns should be banned or included in legislation. 

Vermont has many gun owners and some of the least restrictive gun laws in the country.  Governor Shumlin said results of a new Castleton poll indicating Vermonters support some type of gun control, played no part in his thinking on the issue.  But Graff said the poll may have made the governor a bit bolder publicly.  Graff also said Shumlin must have known the Washington forum was being streamed to the web and would make it back to Vermont.  As for mixed political messages in DC vs. Vermont, Graff said this isn't new -- former Governor Howard Dean would sometimes go farther on his positions in DC to a national audience, than what he would say in Vermont.

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