By, Morgan Crabtree
In a country deeply divided by politics, one state has made it clear that no matter what party they side with, one right will never be tampered with – their second amendment.
Since the 1970s, Vermont has historically voted for Democratic candidates in all levels of the government, hoping for social change and environmental awareness. However, Vermonters seemingly will never venture to the liberal side of the spectrum when it comes to gun control.
“I vote yes to gay marriage. I say yes to the initiatives to support the end of global warming. I am avidly against discrimination, inequality, and I’m sure as hell against stopping our humanitarian efforts in Syria.” Karen Banks, longtime resident of Vermont said. “But I will never, and I mean never, be okay with the government impeding on my second amendment right to bear arms.”
In May of 2016, the minority group of gun control activists were defeated for the 4th consecutive year in their efforts to implement more gun laws in the state. Although well over half of the state voted in favor of Hillary Clinton, the state remains solid in their stance for lenient gun laws.
According to Business Insider, only 28.8% of Vermont residents actually own guns, but to residents of the state and the Winhall Vermont Chief of Police, Jeffrey Whitesell, the simple facade that everyone does and can own a gun will deter people from committing crimes.
“Burglarizing or conducting a home invasion in Vermont is unlikely,” Whitesell said in an interview Tuesday night. “People imagine that there is a pretty high likelihood that the homeowner is going to have a gun, so the criminal would have to think twice.”
Whitesell was born and raised in the state of Vermont and has always had the ability to freely carry a gun once he was of age. The laws in Vermont have changed little over the course of the past decade, despite recent spikes in mass shootings.
World Atlas reported that Vermont has the lowest violent crime rate per capita compared to the entire country. There are only an average of 12 murders a year in Vermont, minuscule compared to the number of murders nationwide. The crime rate for the U.S. has increased, yet the crime rate in Vermont has decreased substantially since 2012.
“If you take a look at the major cities with high crime rates and strict gun laws, it doesn’t seem like their laws are effective,” Whitesell said. “You can look at Birmingham, Alabama and Chicago who have very high gun-related crimes, but some of the strictest gun control laws in the country, and it doesn’t do a thing to deter the criminal from using the gun.”
According to Neighborhood Scout Statistics, Birmingham Alabama ranks number 11 amongst the most dangerous cities in the U.S.
Banks said the importance of owning a gun is not just a source of entertainment through her love for hunting, but it is also a way to protect herself.
“The local police department employs a limited amount of officers, but we have a lot of land.” Banks said. “We don’t have enough officers or time to expect officers to be on the scene of an emergency as quickly as we would see in a more populated area, it’s my way of knowing I’m safe and my family is safe.”
Vermont employs about 178 police officers for every 100,000 residents. Residents in Vermont live further away from each other on average compared to the surrounding states. In other words, their limited team of officers and the far distances they have to travel set them back in their ability to reach every emergency situation at a fast pace.
Connor Hirsch, born and raised in Montpellier Vermont explained that his family does not call 911 in the case of an emergency. Hirsch said that the amount of time it would take for that call to be dispatched from one station to another would be take more time than just calling the police station from the county over from them, due to the far proximity of the local police station.
The newly elected governor, Phil Scot, has vowed not to push any legislation that would result in further gun control, instead he is primarily going to focus on enforcing the laws that the State of Vermont already has in place at this time.
“Adding any gun laws will be trying to solve a problem we don’t have,” Whitesell concluded.