By Patricia LeBoeuf, Bennington Banner
Posted Monday, February 3, 2020 7:45 pm
POWNAL — The Select Board has unanimously adopted a resolution declaring the town a Second Amendment sanctuary, joining several other Vermont municipalities in doing so.
Although the meeting agenda Friday had listed the topic as a possible ballot article, Harry Percey Jr. said that the board could make a nonbinding resolution on Second Amendment sanctuary, rather than leaving the question to voters.
When asked by Chairman Bryan Harris who brought up the topic, board member Bob Jarvis said he had thought other towns had adopted similar resolutions by ballot article, but he was mistaken. Every other Vermont town that he found that has done this, he said, did so as a resolution voted on by the town’s Select Board.
“I think it’s a nonbinding [resolution],” he said. “I think it’s just a signal that we don’t want to change, and we don’t want to lose our Second Amendment rights.”
Jarvis said he would prefer to make such a decision by a vote of the board.
Board member Marlena Pellon, who called in to the meeting, asked Jarvis to read his suggested text for such a resolution.
“Here’s one possibility,” he said. “Pownal hereby declares itself to be a Second Amendment and Article 16 constitutional gun owner township as defined herein. The town hereby recognizes the unalienable rights of all persons within its boundaries to keep and bear arms including but not limited to the lawful use of firearms in defense of life, liberty and property and in defense of the state from all enemies foreign and domestic, the safe and responsible use of firearms for hunting and utilitarian purposes, and for the safe, responsible use of firearms for sporting purposes, including Olympic sports.”
The resolution also declares all federal and state laws and regulations “attempting to restrict these rights to be infringements, hence null and void under this resolution.”
Percey said that this language is similar to resolutions recently adopted by Holland and Pittsford.
Those two towns adopted symbolic designations as Second Amendment sanctuary towns this year, making them the first in the state to take such action, the Associated Press has reported. The Holland resolution contends that local governments have legal authority to refuse to cooperate with state and federal firearm laws that they believe violate Second Amendment rights.
Asked by Pellon if the resolution could be challenged, Jarvis replied, “It’s advisory.”
Jarvis said he’d also like to add that Vermont has consistently been one of the most Second Amendment free states, and also has consistently been among the safest states in terms of gun violence.
“So futzing with our laws is not a good idea, in my view,” he said. “My opinion is — that would be doing the right thing.”
Searsburg, Derby and Clarendon have also recently adopted such resolutions, and other towns are poised to put similar resolutions to a public vote on Town Meeting Day, Seven Days Vermont has reported.