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Hundreds rally for gun rights, against Burlington charter change - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Hundreds rally for gun rights, against Burlington charter change

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MONTPELIER, Vt. -

Flags were flying on the Statehouse steps Sunday afternoon as more than 500 people gathered for the Gun Owners of Vermont Rally.

"Vermonters  -- not just hunting Vermonters who happen to have firearms for target shooting, sports, or just because they like the feel of a gun or whatever -- are crucified because of a lifestyle or because of a hobby," said Ed Cutler, President of Gun Owners of Vermont.

Cutler says Sunday's rally is in response to proposed charter changes that were passed in Burlington last week. The measures would allow police to seize the weapons of anyone suspected of domestic abuse, ban guns in establishments with a liquor license, and require gun owners to lock up their guns at home.

Although voters in Burlington supported these measures -- those at the rally say they are a direct infringement on second amendment rights.

"I grew up with firearms in my home and I currently am a firearm owner. I do a little bit of target practice shooting. I am not a hunter. I am a mother and I am interested in protecting my rights to keep my family safe," said Elizabeth Mason of Hyde Park.

The three measures still have to get passed through Montpelier.  Vermont law requires proposed charter changes to be approved by the legislature.  If that happens, many at the rally worry that other municipalities may try and follow suit, and that it could create inconsistent gun regulations across the state.  "And you would have to be aware of every single law that was passed in each municipality. And you end up causing regular law-abiding citizens to become criminals accidentally," said Arthur Wood of Waterford.

No matter what side of the debate, the choice is now up to the legislature. "I am certain that they don't want this issue," said Mike Smith, a WCAX political analyst. Smith says for a hot-button issue like this, he believes it will be put off as long as possible. "There will probably be an attempt to try to delay discussion on this issue until after the election. I don't know if that can be done or not but it's certainly something that I think will be explored," Smith said.

A bill introduced in Montpelier last year to ban the purchase of semi-automatic weapons in Vermont was quickly withdrawn after strong opposition.

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