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This is Vermont addition I’m Jane Lindholm episode 4 of jolted is out today that’s fee 5 part series looking at what happened after Jack Sawyer was arrested last April for what police say was a plan to cause mass casualties at his former high school in Fair Haven the podcast looks not only at the details of the case and the people involved , but at the ripple effect it has had on state laws and policies , Phil Scott called for new gun laws immediately after Sawyer Soyuz arrest but Governor Scott told jolted reporter Liam elder Connors that some people are still angry about his change of heart.
It’s difficult to take when people are calling you a traitor when when you I don’t feel is that I am there were times when I was going into a Comenius store over the last few months and I’m waiting in line and someone calls who walks by and called me a traitor.
When they do. Scott says he pulls out the Jack Sawyer affidavit literally the document describing Jack’s plans to shoot up his old school in alarming detail .
And want them to walk in my shoes and to have a glimpse of what I was going through.
Do you carry copies of the affidavit around. Yes .
How many of you handed out.
Beyond the emotional responses to several new gun laws that were passed this spring , 2 lawsuits aimed to overturn the provisions of S 55 , which placed limitations on gun and ammunition ownership here to talk about those lawsuits is Jared Carter , an associate professor at Vermont Law School. It’s nice to have you with us regime . Thanks for having me . So first of all , S 55 . Let’s go over what this until cause they’re actually several laws that were passed that revolve around gun ownership who can own guns when when that can they be taken away S 55 was the law that had some very specific ideas around the age of ownership for guns and ammunition and magazine capacity can you take through that the important facets of us 55 .
Yes , I think some of the key pieces to that particular piece of legislation , there’ve been challenged. Here are the prohibition on purchasing firearms when you’re under 21 they prohibit the ownership and use of the so-called high capacity magazines , over 10 rounds , they require all sales to go through the federal background check process and so those are that those are really the big pieces .
And the banning of bump star and the banning of bunched goes into effect on October.
Exactly. And so we’ve got a couple of different lawsuits that essentially when you look at it are challenging all of those subsequent provisions of of the legislation .
So there was a a lawsuit that that was mounted in April that tack called just one specific aspect of S 55 and this was magazine capacity , what does that lawsuit who it against him. And what are they arguing .
Right so it’s against the state of Vermont and and folks that have the responsibility of a for enforcing these laws like the attorney general and others. And essentially what the plaintiffs were saying is that , under Article 16 of the Vermont constitution , which says that the people shall have the right to bear and arms for the defense of self and state this particular prohibition on these magazines was unconstitutional and they specifically chose Article 16 of the remark constitution . I think because really in Vermont . There just isn’t a lot of case law on that particular provision of the Constitution . We haven’t had significant gun laws in Vermont . So there hasn’t been the opportunity to challenge them , and so I think the plaintiffs strategically quite frankly chose to challenge that particular portion under Article 16 of the from our constitution .
And who are the plaintiffs.
So there’s a whole host of different plaintiffs some are outfitters that own businesses that sell these guns or these clips , others are individuals and some are association Sportsman’s clubs who have come together to challenge these lawsuits are you have really off a broad spectrum of plaintiffs challenging the these these regulations and these laws.
And you , you mentioned the Vermont constitution and that’s important because this is , these are cases in both in both lawsuits being heard in Vermont courts and Vermont courts can’t really adjudicate the Second Amendment , and the US Constitution. So these have to be cases that are that are saying that there a violation of Vermont law not US federal law . Right .
Yes , so there isn’t actually a prohibition on bringing a federal constitutional claim in state court. But you’re absolutely right at the end of the day . Vermont courts are going to be the ones that have the constitutional authority to interpret the Vermont constitution and so I think for that reason , that’s why you’re seeing this article . 16 of the remark constitution as as the basis for this challenge , I think there’s another reason , though , why the plaintiffs chose to do this . And that’s because quite frankly the case law out there on these particular types of prohibitions in the federal system under the Second Amendment to the US Constitution is not particularly good for the point is , it’s much more challenging and since we don’t have a lot of case law in Vermont , it’s sort of a blank slate in many ways , it’s really a couple of cases that we can use in Vermont to illuminate this but but aside from that I think the plane excellent plaintiffs made the strategic decision to pursue it in Vermont because the Second Amendment case lies . It’s difficult for them .
Well and there. There aren’t many cases in cause we haven’t really had these kinds of restrictions on the books before right . Exactly so that there is one lawsuit in April that that specifically addresses this question of magazine capacity and and I think one of the arguments , they’re using is that these are our magazines . The 30 round magazines are and the question is , are they in quote common use you know these common usage and and guns and ammunition that are commonly used are seen as at least in this sort of legal framework this this should be allowed . But things that are like you know grenade launchers are not commonly used therefore it’s easier to say there should be a ban on them right and what do I have that right . Yeah . And and that actually .
That line of of argument that these are in common use comes from federal case law interpreting the Second Amendment and so advocates and the plaintiffs’ I think I’ve done that here when there is no case law in the jurisdiction that they’re arguing in Vermont here. They looked a federal case law and so if you look at federal case law , particularly the case from the US Supreme Court , District of Columbia vs Heller , the court talks about that the Second Amendment rooted in the ability of one to defend themselves protects the right to keep and bear arms that are were in common use at the time and that the majority of Americans have come to use and have , so that’s why I think the plaintiffs are using that language is not because the Vermont Supreme Court has said anything about that . It’s in fact because the Vermont Supreme Court has not said anything about that that they are using that line of reasoning coming from the federal system .
So the second lawsuit filed later more recently really takes aim at all 3 of the other provisions in S 55 the burning a bump stocks that increased requirements for background checks , who has to go through a background check , and raising the legal age to purchase a gun to 21 with some exceptions , including if a person who is under the age of 21 is active military or law enforcement or has Pastor Hunter safety course , so is it the same argument in this other lawsuit just applied to other facets of the law.
Yes , I think it is in the cases at the state level that that the plaintiffs are are are looking at are going to have to deal with depending on which side you’re on , there was a 1903 case state V Rosenthal in which Rutland had passed an ordinance prohibiting the concealed carry of a whole host of different weapons an individual was was arrested and charged for carrying pistols in Rutland in 19 oh 3 and that when all up to the Vermont Supreme Court in the Vermont Supreme Court said essentially because this Rutland ordinance was so broad because it allowed the prohibition of concealed carry under any circumstances , it was counter to the.