Huffpost Politics

Vermont Shooting Range Bans Burlington Police In Protest Of City's Proposed Assault Weapon Law

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A Vermont shooting range has banned Burlington police in protest of a city council gun control proposal.
A Vermont shooting range has banned Burlington police in protest of a city council gun control proposal.

The national debate over gun control got very local for police in Burlington, Vt., earlier this month, after an area shooting range barred officers from practicing on its premises. The move came in protest of the city's proposed ban on certain assault weapons.

The resolution, which the Burlington City Council recently voted 10-3 in favor of, would ban assault-style firearms and large-capacity magazines within city limits. Similar initiatives have gone before city governments across the United States even as President Barack Obama met with law enforcement officials to discuss gun control measures Monday.

Although it requires approval from the Vermont state legislature and won't be put before voters until 2014, the measure angered the Lamoille Valley Fish and Game Club. In protest of the ban, the 400-member club voted 6-1 to bar the Burlington Police Department from using its shooting ranges, according to NBC local affiliate WPTZ.

Robert Boivin, chairman of the club's executive board, sent a letter to the Burlington City Council and other state and local officials stating that the proposed ban superseded state law and violated Second Amendment rights, according to Fox News.

"We felt that the Burlington City Council's actions really alienated a lot of our people -- members in particular -- and if they weren't going to be supportive of us, then we'd have a hard time being supportive of their group," Boivin told WPTZ.

The Burlington Police Department released a statement expressing regret that the "important and much-needed community dialogue regarding gun control" resulted in officers being barred from the range. Officers now conduct target practice at a different location. The city council stands by the proposal.

"In the absence of federal legislation or state law... it is incumbent upon us as a city to take the measures that we feel are necessary to protect our citizens," Burlington City Councilman Norman Blias told Fox News.

The Burlington Free Press reported recently that President Obama's gun control recommendations "gained traction" with Vermont congressional delegates after they were announced on Jan. 16, but that many gun advocates remained unpersuaded.

On Tuesday, the National Rifle Association urged its members to attend a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun control Wednesday. NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre is expected to appear before the committee to deliver prepared remarks arguing that "law-abiding gun owners will not accept blame for the acts of violent or deranged criminals," and the government should not "dictate what we can lawfully own and use to protect our families."

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