A Novel Approach, Indeed

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A friend forwarded me an email beginning,



Vermont State Rep. Fred Maslack has read the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as well as Vermont’s own Constitution very carefully, and … Maslack recently proposed a bill to register “non-gun-owners” and require them to pay a $500 fee to the state.

Thus Vermont would become the first state to require a permit for the luxury of going about unarmed and assess a fee of $500 for the privilege of not owning a gun. Maslack read the “militia” phrase of the Second Amendment as not only the right of the individual citizen to bear arms, but as ‘a clear mandate to do so’ He believes that universal gun ownership was advocated by the Framers of the Constitution as an antidote to a “monopoly of force” by the government as well as criminals.

Well! Fred’s heart is certainly in the right place even if his execution, with its compulsion and fines that enrich the State, is as tyrannical as his opponents’. And until I researched the piece, Vermont was edging out Texas and South Carolina as my future home.

Alas, the story is a decade old. Maslack did offer such a bill, but in 2001. Pity it didn’t pass. But while Vermont’s legislature killed it, the internet continues resurrecting it — so much so that the Burtlington Free Press reported on the phenomenon in December 2012. (By the way, Maslack is correct about the Framers’ advocating “universal gun ownership.” In fact, his bill harkens back to colonial times, when most of New England did indeed require citizens to turn out for “militia days” with their guns. These events supposedly trained participants to fight and maneuver as a group. In actuality, they often degenerated to the 18th-century equivalent of a tailgate-party.)

We can take two things from this anecdote. First, be vastly encouraged that so many folks value guns they recycle Maslack’s proposal. Though “Jeff Soyer, who writes the Vermont-based gun enthusiasts’ blog site Alphecca.com,” lamented that the failed bill “is continually rediscovered by those wishing to believe it could come true … Some of them will unfortunately grasp at any wishful-thinking news that can support their cause without doing any basic research into it,” that’s actually a telling testimony to Americans’ longing for freedom.

Second, my friend’s forward makes an intriguing argument you may be able to use with friends who hate guns: “There is no reason why gun owners should have to pay taxes to support police protection for people not wanting to own guns. Let them contribute their fair share and pay their own way. … Non-gun owners require more police to protect them and this fee [that Maslack suggested] should go to paying for their defense!”

10:03 am on February 6, 2013