Mears: Proposed gun ownership bill threatens individual rights
Published: Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 00:12
Guns and the right to own guns has been a heated topic for debate recently in the state of Vermont. State Rep. Fred Maslack has proposed a new bill that would require “non-gun owning” citizens of Vermont to register and pay a $500 fee to the state, for not owning a gun.
Many people are irate about the proposed bill, accusing Maslack of trying to interfere with their right to bear arms, as stated by the second amendment in the Bill of Rights. The second amendment states that citizens of the United States have the right-choice-to bear arms, meaning if a citizen does not want to own a gun, then they are not required to own one. With Maslack’s new bill, a person’s rights would be taken away; a government does not have the right to take away what our forefathers gave us.
Many supporters of the bill argue that it is not only our right to bear arms but our obligation to own a gun and protect yourself and your fellow man. According to a comment made on a blog about the bill on HubPages, user Daniel Townsend wrote “when the government, or criminals, or a foreign power chooses to take that which does not belong to them, then the common man should have means to defend himself.”
However, Mr. Townsend does not acknowledge the fact that the government is already trying to take away something that does not belong to them, the right to choose to own a gun or not.
Vermont’s own constitution states explicitly that “the people have a right to bear arms for the defense of themselves and the State,” meaning that citizens in Vermont have the right to decide based on their personal beliefs and preferences if they want to own a gun or not, and they should not be fined for owning or not owning a gun.
Requiring non-gun owners to pay a $500 fee and registering as a non-gun owner would increase the number of guns purchased, and it would highly weigh on people’s decisions on whether or not to buy a gun.
While Vermont’s crime rate is low, requiring people to pay a fine for not owning a gun would increase the crime rate; people would rather own a gun than pay the fine, and not every citizen of Vermont is a trusting, upstanding person. Maslack’s bill fails to identify that.
Requiring everyone to own a gun or pay a fine would increase the number of guns in the state. The state of Vermont is one of few states that does not require registration or a license to own a handgun or a shotgun, and while there are upstanding citizens that can be trusted with a gun, there are also those that should not own a gun because of the things they may do with one, from robbing a store or a bank to murder. Maslack believes that all Vermont citizens are trusting, and therefore his bill is lacking in that sense as well.
This bill should not be passed. Requiring Vermont citizens to register and pay a fine for not owning a gun not only goes against the second amendment, but it also fails to identify that not all people are trusting and safe when it comes to gun use.
As an alternative, the state of Vermont should inform their citizens of the benefits of owning a gun rather than fining them for not; they should educate rather than punish.