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Gun "rights" people, you do not speak for what is "Vermont culture." You cannot claim exclusive rights to define it. In every poll, from the Castleton Institute to Vermont Digger, an overwhelming majority of Vermonters support regulation of guns as common sense, knowing such regulations in other states in no way have prevented the pursuit of hunting and other gun sports by law-abiding citizens. That is simply a fact. And if you pay taxes in Vermont, and live in Vermont, you are a Vermonter. There is no requirement to be born here, no litmus test of political persuasion. Vermont has always stood for tolerance, and bullying, threatening and insulting the integrity of people who disagree with you is just plain wrong, certainly not part of the Vermont tradition.
Sen. Rodgers, You are wrong. My family has been in Vermont since before it was Vermont, I am fine with hunting culture, but I support this bill, and other reasonable measures to keep guns out of the wrong hands -- and so do the vast majority of Vermonters, as multiple independent polls have shown.. I also notice you are not complaining about outside influence of the NRA, otherwise know as the gun manufacturers' association.
It is fair game, and let the public draw their own conclusions. How a public official conducts his/her private life is not subject to the same privacy standards as a private citizen-- something recognized in laws governing libel, for example. If he wasn't willing to accept that, he shouldn't have sought public office. That is not to say Vermont needs to dumb down and go the tabloid route, focusing on his dates instead of his job performance. But we are entitled to know the facts-- as we had a right to know how he handled a personal business deal with a needy neighbor. Character is a reasonable criterion in assessing fitness for public service.
There is a stigma about mental health issues, and talking about it is the only way to root it out of our culture-- ignoring it surely won't. At least it hasn't so far in recorded history. And the stigma is part of the reason that treatment is hard to get even when you have financial access to it and are motivated to do it, as Hanna was initially. If we took mental illness as seriously and non-judgmentally as heart disease, would she have had to spend days in an ER?
We do not know what happened after her admission to change her mind about getting hospital treatment, and it is absolutely true that an adult can't be held in treatment against his or her will without evidence of imminent threat sufficient to get a court order-- clearly not the case here. We can't blame her release on the hospital, but I hope it is engaging in a review of her treatment while she was there-- her brief stay raises the question, were resources available to give her what she needed, when she needed it, or was this another waiting game due to insufficient staffing or other resources, another measure of the social stigma, reflected in financial priorities?
The question is not intended to blame this hospital, but to look at how our system could and should change.
Likewise, the easy access to a gun. I question how effective a poster with a help line is going to be in the gun shop-- I suspect many buyers, like Hanna, have already tried and failed to get help. For starters, this state needs to start reporting to the federal data bank. But since 40 percent of our gun sales aren't subject to a background check at all, clearly we also need to close that loophole. And more, we need to look at other ways to make it harder for guns to end up in the wrong hands: a waiting period, a broader restriction on selling to those with any recent history of treatment for mental illness.