Warren resident Bill Robinson again told his group, Gun Owners of Vermont, to be respectful of opposing opinions prior to facing two more candidates for state representative this week.

After the entire group recited the Pledge of Allegiance at the October 14 meeting at the Warren fire station, Adam Greshin, I-Warren, and Maxine Grad, D-Moretown, were able to address the group. They shared their plans if they are re-elected before opening themselves up to questioning from the Gun Owners of Vermont members.

Greshin, in his opening statement, said that he is in favor of a bill that would input universal background checks in Vermont, which is something that the group is institutionally against. Jake Sallerson, I-Warren, Greshin’s opponent, ran into the same concerns about his position on this when he spoke to the group at their meeting last month. The fourth candidate for this state representative seat, Marie Leotta, R-Waitsfield, fielded questions from the group at the September meeting as well.

Grad did not directly mention universal background checks. But she did say that in the current system, nonviolent criminal offenders have a hard time getting jobs and student loans, can’t serve in the military and cannot own firearms. In some cases this is unfair because the crimes they committed are outdated and may no longer be crimes. She also mentioned recent gun shop legislation that trains gun owners to handle other, possibly suicidal, gun owners.

Throughout the evening’s discussion the prevailing sentiment was that Vermont does not have a gun problem so why do legislators want to attack gun laws?

Although both Greshin and Grad agreed that the state of Vermont is a safe state, they believe that there can be steps to take to make it even more so. Greshin mentioned that there are guns that are acquired privately and questioned why they wouldn’t be subject to the same laws as guns acquired through a gun shop.

The Gun Owners of Vermont members again spoke to the candidates about their worries regarding registration of firearms. They told Greshin and Grad that in the past, when there has been a registry of guns, it has led to confiscation.

One member in the audience stood up and spoke his beliefs that the government has a goal of knowing where all firearms are in the country and, while holding a book titled Nobody Died at Sandy Hook, explained that the large-scale attacks involving guns are orchestrated to incite fear into the media and the public.

Grad told the crowd that she was very concerned about domestic violence, but the crowd unanimously disagreed, saying that domestic violence involving firearms in the state is almost nonexistent.

“Universal background checks make no sense to me because all you’re going after are law-abiding citizens,” one audience member said, and he is not alone in this thought. Many people spoke about the need to protect law-abiding gun owners, believing that all guns that are used in crime are bought illegally.

Grad and Greshin reaffirmed the group that they have no intentions to take guns away from law-abiding citizens.

Valley chapter of Gun Owners of Vermont meets candidates Leotta and Sallerson