Vermonters at several dozen March town meetings added their voices to the national debate on guns and tar sands oil transport by approving resolutions seeking tighter controls.
At least six municipalities voted to ask lawmakers to ban assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, require background checks for every gun sold and make arms trafficking a federal crime.
“Our efforts cannot bring back the 20 innocent children murdered in Newtown, Conn., or the 33 people murdered with guns every day in America,” organizers of Communities Against Assault Weapons said on their petitions. “But we can prevent future tragedies by passing common sense legislation.”
Spurred by the Dec. 14 school shooting, the grass-roots group saw its nonbinding resolution — based on language from Mayors Against Illegal Guns — win passage in Bradford, Hartland, Norwich, Strafford, Thetford and Woodstock. It was tabled in Vershire and set for a vote April 6 in Hartford.
The other nonbinding resolution considered by multiple municipalities asked voters to “Keep Vermont Tar Sands Free” by blocking the use of a 1950 pipeline to transport Canadian oil through the state. Vermont organizers at the 350.org climate-change campaign are concerned about the possibility of oil moving through the Northeast Kingdom for export in Portland, Maine. They consider the issue one of statewide interest because the pipeline not only runs through the towns of Barton, Burke, Guildhall, Irasburg, Jay, Newport, Sutton, Troy, and Victory, but also intersects 15 natural waterways that lead elsewhere.
Environmentalists convinced more than two dozen municipalities to voice “opposition to the transport of tar sands oil through Vermont, and deep concern about the risks of such transport for public health and safety, property values and our natural resources.”
The “Keep Vermont Tar Sands Free” item was approved in Bennington, Burlington, Calais, Charlotte, Chittenden, Cornwall, Craftsbury, East Montpelier, Fayston, Hinesburg, Marshfield, Middlebury, Middlesex, Montgomery, Montpelier, Moretown, Plainfield, Putney, Randolph, Ripton, Starksboro, Waitsfield, Walden, Warren, Woodbury and Worcester.
The item was deemed “not germane to town business” in Westford and awaited results as of press time in Cabot, Grand Isle and Greensboro.
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