Vermont: Free-State Failure

What I have dubbed “the last free state in the Union,” Vermont is unique in that it does not issue concealed carry permits to anyone, resident or non-resident. Vermont is a true constitutional carry state; anyone who is not prohibited by federal law is able to carry firearms both openly and concealed. Though there was a law that passed in 2021 banning so-called “high-capacity” magazines, Vermont is one of the most lenient states for firearms owners and ranks fourth in the “lowest rate of gun homicides and gun assaults in the U.S.”

Photo by King of Hearts,

Photo by King of Hearts,

Nevertheless, House Bill 230, sponsored by more than a dozen Democrats, was passed into law without the governor’s signature on May 12, 2023. The bill took effect on July 1.

So why would lawmakers think it necessary to implement gun-control laws when those laws are clearly not needed? That is a great question. While Vermont ranks low in gun-related deaths by homicide at 9 percent, 88 percent of gun-related deaths are by suicide (with the rate of suicide by men and boys being 50 percent higher than the national average). This bill, also known as the Suicide Prevention Bill, was seemingly characterized in a way that would prevent Vermont’s high suicide rate. This bill includes:

Mandatory firearms storage: A person must keep or store any firearm in a locked container or “equipped with a tamper-resistant mechanical lock or other safety device.”

A 72-hour waiting period to purchase firearms: “A person shall not transfer a firearm to another person until 72 hours after the licensed dealer facilitating the transfer is provided with a unique identification number for the transfer by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) or seven business days have elapsed since the dealer contacted NICS to initiate the background check, whichever occurs first.”

An expansion of “red flag” laws: “A State’s Attorney or the Office of the Attorney General, or a family or household member, may file a petition requesting that the court issue an extreme risk protection order.”

As the sentiment for this legislation may sound reasonable, why lawmakers aren’t focused on mental health resources rather than gun control is a question you will have to ask your legislators. The bill even addresses the fact that “there are many other methods for completing suicide.” Gov. Phil Scott (R), torn between the “sentiment” and the loss of Republican support, opted to neither sign nor veto the legislation, stating, “I will allow H.230 to become law without my signature, and await the judicial branch to decide the fate of waiting periods.”


Mudding Up Maine

A new series of gun-control bills is making the rounds in Maine, a picturesque New England state that has an even lower percentage of homicides by gun than Vermont. Maine, a constitutional carry state, is also one of the more lenient states for firearms owners. Any person 21 or older (or at least 18 and active duty or honorably discharged military) who can legally possess a firearm is allowed to carry openly or concealed without a permit.

With almost as many gun owners in the state as there are lobsters, why — with such a low gun-related violence rate — are state lawmakers looking to impose strict gun laws there?

Like in Vermont, gun-related deaths in Maine are almost entirely suicides: 89 percent compared to 7 percent homicides. In fact, Maine has the lowest crime rate overall in the U.S. at 1.1 per 1,000 people. Regardless of these statistics, Democratic lawmakers have introduced a handful of new gun-control bills, including:

LD 60: This bill would impose a three-day waiting period “before an individual may receive a firearm that they lawfully purchase, with limited exemptions.”

LD 168: Also known as a universal background check, this bill would require a background check for “all private sales of firearms, including those at gun shows.” It would also apply to a private sale between two parties. All transfers would have to be conducted through a federal firearms license (FFL) dealer, which would include transfer fees and government paperwork.

LD 1340: This bill would ban any “rapid-fire modification devices” that include, but are not limited to, “bump stocks and binary triggers that are used in a wide array of legal activities, including competitive and recreational shooting.”

Sen. Matt Harrington (R-York), an opponent of LD 168, fears that universal background checks are components of a gun registry, stating, “The first step in confiscation, generally, is a registry. So, it’s a slippery slope when you start going down that path.”

Each of these bills has been introduced in the House but has yet to be put up for a full vote.,,


Serial Comedy in Pennsylvania

Finally thought politicians couldn’t possibly come up with any new ideas to harass and punish gun owners? Well, pull up a seat and get your popcorn ready because things are getting downright comical. In a series of wild proposals sponsored by more than a dozen Democrats, ammunition is the newest component that gun-control politicians have targeted (pun intended). Let’s talk about House Bill 586 in Pennsylvania.

It was introduced by 14 Democratic representatives on March 20, 2023, and is an amendment to Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses). This bill seeks to add individual serial numbers to every round of ammunition sold in the state.

So, let’s say you bought a box of .40 S&W at your local firearms dealer. Every round would have the same serial number and would be tied directly to that box of ammo. Have you ever accidentally dropped a round at the range? Have you ever misplaced a box of ammo in the garage? Never mind that.

If the bill passes, ammunition manufacturers would be forced to engrave a serial number on both the base of each bullet and its case such that neither is destroyed when the round is fired. Also, the outside of each box of ammunition would be “labeled with the name of the manufacturer and the same serial number used on the cartridge [cases] and bases of bullets contained in the box.”

And that’s not all. This insane bill also states that:

A seller shall provide the commissioner with the following information for inclusion in the database:

  1. The date of each ammunition purchase.
  2. The name and date of birth of each purchaser of ammunition.
  3. The driver’s license number of the purchaser or other number issued to the purchaser by the Federal Government or the Commonwealth.
  4. The serial numbers of all ammunition for regulated firearms bought by the purchaser.
  5. Any other information that the commissioner considers necessary.

How does the state intend to pay for this? I’m glad you asked.

For all ammo you purchase, there will be a new per-round tax implemented. The bill is currently in the House Judiciary Committee.

If you think this is as ridiculous as I think it is, please reach out to your state representatives. After all, as Theodore Roosevelt once said, “The most successful politician is he who says what the people are thinking most often in the loudest voice.”


A Ban on Bans: U.S. Supreme Court

In 1803, Chief Justice John Marshall invoked the power of judicial review in the landmark case Marbury v. Madison. Since then, it has been the High Court’s duty to strike down any law that it has interpreted to be unconstitutional. And with that, the Second Amendment to the Constitution continues to be one of the most litigated in the country.

“When the Supreme Court rules on a constitutional issue, that judgment is virtually final; its decisions can be altered only by the rarely used procedure of constitutional amendment or by a new ruling of the Court.”

So, could the Supreme Court permanently prevent states from banning semi-automatic AR- and AK-pattern rifles? It is a very real possibility. Even with anti-gunners’ continued efforts to enact extreme gun-control legislation, challenges to so-called “assault weapons” bans are trickling in from all over the country. The judicial process is laborious and lengthy, but the result could finally set in stone that states can no longer ban these rifles.

This specific trek across the judicial plains of the 7th Circuit Court began in Illinois when the state effectively banned semi-automatic rifles back in January. Immediate lawsuits ensued, and the one that gained traction was National Association for Gun Rights v. City of Naperville. The plaintiffs, which include a firearms dealer and a gun-rights group, claim that the semi-automatic rifle ban and the ban on high-capacity magazines both violate the Second Amendment.

A six-day injunction was handed down but was almost immediately overturned by the appeals court. Afterward, the plaintiffs in the case requested that the Supreme Court grant a temporary hold on the new law while the process played out in court.

The Supreme Court denied that injunction request.

While that may sound out of character for the current Supreme Court, the decision is not necessarily a bad one. The Court is delaying the “questions raised by Naperville until it or a similar case has been fully litigated in the lower courts and the case reaches the justices through the ordinary, more time-consuming process that the Court uses to hear most major cases.”

One justice likely to vote down the ban is Brett Kavanaugh. In his 2011 opinion as a U.S. Circuit judge of the District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) case, which allows bans on “dangerous and unusual weapons,” Kavanaugh dissented by saying that “semi-automatic rifles are neither more dangerous than lawful weapons such as handguns, nor are they especially unusual.”

The case will likely make its way, ever so slowly, to the Supreme Court, where it will presumably be overturned by the conservative super-majority, or at least by five votes. This will then set a precedent: States such as Illinois, California and Washington — and seven others — will no longer be allowed to enact legislation that would ban these commonly owned semi-automatic rifles.