SPEAKER MITZI JOHNSON’S REMARKS AT THE SIGNING OF THE GUN VIOLENCE PREVENTION BILLS

12 April 2018

For Immediate Release

April 11, 2018

Contact: Katherine Levasseur

Office of the Speaker of the House

(802) 828-2245

klevasseur@leg.state.vt.us

 

SPEAKER MITZI JOHNSON’S REMARKS AT THE SIGNING OF THE GUN VIOLENCE PREVENTION BILLS

Two months ago, Vermont awoke to the heartbreaking reality that we are not immune to the gun violence that we’ve watched unfold, unchecked, in schools, churches, theaters and communities around the country. The affidavit referenced by the Governor shook me to my core as well. When I read it, I understood completely why he opened the door to a very different conversation than what we’ve had in the past.

The bills being signed today strike an important balance between individual liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and the necessary laws of protection that create a safe and just society. That tension between liberty and justice—or as we say in Vermont, between freedom and unity—was at the very core of this discussion.

The many, many Vermonters that spoke up both in and out of the state house spoke to that core tension of democracy, but I have no doubt that we all share the wish to reduce gun violence. We ALL want safe schools. And we all respect and love our dear state.  Thank you to everyone who shared their thoughts, engaged in democracy, and exercised their rights to free speech.

Who here is grateful to live in country that not only allows, but supports and welcomes free speech?  Where you can freely criticize and contradict the Legislature, the Governor, the President—free from fear of retribution. That freedom is shared by the people here today as well as by the students in Florida and Vermont who didn’t follow the usual script of thought and prayers following a tragedy, and who had the courage to speak an unpopular truth.

Thank you to everyone here for speaking up.  Thank you to the countless community leaders who have for years, highlighted the need for these reasonable, common sense changes.

Most of all, I’d like to thank House Majority Leader Jill Krowinski and House Judiciary Chair Maxine Grad for their tireless efforts and compassionate patience while Vermonters along with their elected officials struggled with this difficult, necessary conversation.

For the 80 Vermonters who lost their lives over 2 decades due to a domestic violence dispute turned deadly;

For the 420 Vermont families over 5 years who have lost a loved one to a gunshot wound;

And for the many students who have clearly, passionately, and respectfully articulated how their high school experience is overshadowed by safety concerns in a way I never knew in school, I am proud to have these bills become law.

 

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