Like most people, I have many traits that make up my identity: I am a father, a husband, and a worker. Like many Vermonters, I can also add “hunter” to that list. Hunting has been a formative part of my life; it taught me the valuable lessons of hard work, persistence, resilience, and gratitude. More concretely, it has provided sustenance for my family. Guns are a crucial tool to hunting, and they will always be a significant part of my life.
Like many responsible gun owners and hunters, I am an avid supporter of the Second Amendment. And, like many responsible gun owners and hunters, I am also a staunch supporter of universal background checks.
Background checks will not prevent all mass shootings, homicides or crimes with guns, but this is not an excuse to sit back and do nothing. It is not a panacea that will abolish all gun crimes in the future. There is no one single answer. Background checks are but a key piece–along with other measures such as extreme risk protection orders and removing guns from domestic violence situations–that will help keep guns away from people who should not have them.
It is our responsibility to do whatever we can to reduce violence, reduce life lost, protect children, and improve public safety. Background checks enjoy broad support in Vermont and they work. A 2016 Castleton poll showed that 84% of respondents support universal background checks in Vermont. Studies have shown that in states that require background checks for all handgun sales, 47% fewer women are shot to death by their intimate partners, 53% fewer law enforcement officers are shot to death with handguns, and there are 53% fewer suicides by gun.
How easy does it really need to be to buy a gun? I am unmoved by some gun owners’ arguments that it will add cost or inconvenience to their purchase. I am personally willing to wait just a little longer or pay a relatively small fee to increase the odds that someone who shouldn’t be buying a gun might be turned away, or, better yet, won’t even try to buy one.