Statehouse lifts ban on guns for Friday
MONTPELIER — Les Dimick, chief of the Vermont Capitol Police Department, generally tries to keep guns out of the Statehouse.
On Friday, however, Dimick’s five-man force will transform a small conference room in the first floor of the venerable building into a firearms academy.
“The idea is to give legislators a little firearms 101 so to speak,” Dimick said Wednesday. “I think there truly are some of them who have never handled firearms.”
A school shooting in Newtown, Conn., last month has spawned a push here for stricter gun regulations. Rep. Linda Waite-Simpson, lead sponsor of a bill that would, among other things, ban ammunition clips of more than 10 rounds, said that if lawmakers want to have an informed debate on the issues, they need to at least know what they’re talking about.
“People have been asking, what is an assault weapon? What is the difference between semiautomatic and bolt action? What is the difference between 10 rounds and 30 rounds?” Waite-Simpson said. “There are lot of people in this building who are not gun owners, and I felt the need to do a sort of Legislature show-and-tell so when we start talking about these things, we’re all on same page.”
Waite-Simpson had to get sign-off for the event from Sergeant-at-Arms Francis Brooks; the display will be in Room 10 after a 10:30 a.m. news conference on Waite-Simpson’s gun bill.
Brooks said he was willing to make an exception to the longstanding ban on firearms in the Statehouse, so long as the Capitol Police had control over the event.
“That alleviates any of my concerns of Joe Citizen bringing in his own arsenal,” Brooks said.
Dimick said legislators will be able to look at, touch and even handle a variety of unloaded weapons.
“A lot of lawmakers are unaware of the different types of actions, be it semi-automatic, pump action, lever action, bolt action,” Dimick said.
Dimick said he’ll also have on hand an array of magazines and clips for legislators to view.
“I don’t think they understand the difference between magazines and clips and things like that,” he said.
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