Republican governor urges US Senate to act on gun violence

MONTPELIER, Vermont (AP) — The Vermont governor, who backed changes to the state’s gun laws after what he saw as a near-miss school shooting, used his credentials as as a moderate Republican to urge senators across the country to work together to address gun violence.

In a letter sent last week to the nation’s 100 senators and published in The Associated Press on Tuesday, GOP Gov. Phil Scott said efforts to reduce gun violence cannot focus on guns alone. . Senators, he wrote, have the chance to work together to make a real difference.

Scott wrote the letter, dated June 14, as the Senate worked to finalize the details of a compromise on gun violence. The Democats’ chief negotiator said Tuesday that senators were close to reaching agreement on a bipartisan gun violence bill.

Scott’s office received varying responses from many of the 100 senators, ranging from “extreme gratitude” to an acknowledgment of receipt of the letter, spokeswoman Rebecca Kelley said Tuesday.

“We were surprised and grateful for the amount of response,” she said.

In his letter, Scott highlighted a 2018 case in which he learned of a plan from an 18-year-old Vermont man who described plans for a school shooting in a document. titled “The Diary of an Active Shooter”. said he wanted to kill more people than the 32 people who died in the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings.

Scott received the report two days after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, which killed 14 students and three teachers. At the time, a clearly shaken Scott, a gun owner, said he hadn’t previously thought changes to Vermont’s gun laws were needed.

“This afternoon I made the decision to take action on gun safety, school safety and mental health strategies to protect Vermonters,” he wrote.

In response, the Vermont Legislature passed the state’s first major gun restrictions, which included raising the age to purchase guns from 18 to 21, requiring universal background and passage of Vermont’s version of a “red flag” law. He also highlighted Vermont’s efforts to focus on mental health and school safety measures.

Almost two months later, Scott signed the new laws on the steps of the Statehouse in Montpellier, surrounded by supporters of gun safety measures and their screaming opponents.

Although Vermont has a reputation for being one of the most liberal states in the country, it also has a long and deep tradition of hunting and gun ownership.

Scott said he faced personal threats from across the country and significant anger from former supporters and voters.

“But as the number of mass shootings has increased across the country,” Scott said, “I have no doubt it was the right thing to do.”

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