Burlington, Vt. City Council Votes to Ban Assault Weapons

(NECN: Jack Thurston, Colchester, Vt.) - The Burlington, Vt. City Council okayed a ban on assault-style weapons and ammunition at its meeting Monday night. However, a charter change is a long way from becoming reality.

City Councilor Norm Blais, D-Ward 6, was the chief backer of the charter change. After the Newtown, Conn. school shooting massacre last month, Blais suggested a ban would be a common-sense move that would better ensure a safer community. 

"We should afford to our citizens, especially our children, the same rights we afford to our deer," Blais said at the meeting, describing how Vt. wildlife regulations restrict what types of ammunition hunters use to target wild animals during prescribed hunting seasons.

Opponents filled Contois Auditorium in Burlington's City Hall Monday night. Many of them argued a ban would punish responsible gun owners, and said individuals' mental health problems, not the guns themselves, are the underlying problem. 

"These people will pick up a stick, a rock or they're going to use their fist," Roger Farnsworth, an opponent to the proposed charter change, told council members at the meeting. "Are you going to cut everybody's hands off? And then what's this law going to do to the law-abiding citizen?"

The charter change still needs to be fine-tuned by a City Council subcommittee. Burlington voters would weigh in next year, and the state legislature also would have to sign off before it can be enacted. Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vt., has repeatedly said that for gun control measures to be effective, they should be addressed at the federal level, not on a state-by-state level.

WPTZ-TV contributed to this report.
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