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    Act 250 hearing for Hale Mountain gun club packs Rutland conference room By LAURA RASKIN
    Staff Writer
    RUTLAND -- Attorneys for Shaftsbury's Hale Mountain Rod and Gun Club told the Vermont Environmental Board on Wednesday that the club has not made significant changes to its site since 1970 and should not be held to Act 250 criteria.
    Club supporters packed half of a conference room at the Holiday Inn in Rutland, with some of its charter members testifying to activities at the club over the years.
    "The only issue is whether the club has undergone substantial change. After you review the evidence, you will see that an Act 250 jurisdiction does not exist," said the club's attorney, James Goss.
    The club opened in 1947 and has always been active, he said, with a mix of rifle, pistol and trap shooting taking place there.
    But neighbors on Rod and Gun Club Road say the club should be held to Act 250's 10 criteria because of substantial changes, including increased shooting noise and adverse environmental effects. Those neighbors also appeared before the Environmental Board.
    In July, District 8 Environmental Coordinator Warren Foster ruled that the club needed to apply for an Act 250 permit. The club appealed that decision and neighbors cross-appealed, prompting Wednesday's hearing.
    Neighbors hope that when the board makes its decision in two months, it will uphold Foster's ruling.
    Representing herself, neighbor Ann Dailey said her family purchased their home in 1980 for its secluded, peaceful environment.
    "As time passed, things have changed and those changes are why we're here today," she said.
    Stephen Reynes, lawyer for two other neighbors - Owen and Kathy Beauchesne and Ken and Mary Kennedy - told the board the club should be held to Act 250 jurisdiction because it made "recognizable, physical changes" that had a "significant impact."
    Those changes include clearing trees and the addition of a garage, shot pavilions, a storage trailer and new technology, said Reynes.
    No attention was paid to required buffer zones around Class II wetlands on the club's property either, he said.
    Lorraine Mattison, another neighbor representing herself, testified that the addition of roofs onto the shooting sheds in the 1990s meant members could shoot more often in inclement weather.
    "We've lost the enjoyment of our home and property," said Mattison. "Most summer days now we enjoy after dark."
    Two of Hale Mountain's charter members - Henry Salem and Ralph Bevis - testified that they hadn't witnessed substantial changes to the club.
    But in his cross-examination of current club Chairman James Logan, Reynes implied their septic system is not up to code and has caused undue water pollution.
    "Ann Dailey smelled sewage north of the (caretaker's) trailer," said Reynes. Logan maintained he was not even sure where the septic tank was.
    "I can't remember being in a case before where the person who owns the property says, 'We don't know where the septic system is,'" said Reynes during a break in the hearing. He planned to call a witness later in the afternoon who was a hydrogeologist and knew about septic system regulations, he said.
    A crowd of Hale Mountain supporters and members who gathered in the motel lobby midway through the day said they did not understand why the hearing was taking place at all. Any changes they've made to the club have been for safety, they said. That group included club President Charlie Wells and former President Charles Stewart.
    "You couldn't get Ralph Bevis or Henry Salem or anyone else who has testified this morning to lie about what they've said," said Paul Williams, who sits on the club's board of directors and has been shooting there since he was a boy in the 1960s.
    After Wednesday's hearing, both sides can submit supplemental findings to the board. The board will probably deliberate in April and come out with a written decision after that, said board Chairwoman Patricia Moulton Powdon.

U.S. Department of Justice

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco,
Firearms and Explosives


  Washington, DC 20226





As of September 13, 2004, the provisions of Public Law 103-322, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, covering semiautomatic assault weapons and large capacity ammunition feeding devices are no longer in effect. The regulations implementing these provisions also are no longer in effect.

Specifically, there is no longer a Federal prohibition on the manufacture, transfer, and possession of semiautomatic assault weapons and large capacity ammunition feeding devices.

There are no longer any marking requirements for semiautomatic assault weapons and large capacity ammunition feeding devices. Existing markings on firearms and magazines relating to law enforcement or government use may be disregarded.

There is no longer any Federal requirement for Federal firearms licensees to obtain certain documentation before transferring semiautomatic assault weapons and large capacity ammunition feeding devices to government agencies or law enforcement officers. However, any records obtained prior to September 13, 1994, pertaining to the sale or transfer of semiautomatic assault weapons must still be retained for a period of 5 years. See 27 CFR § 478.129(f). Moreover, records of importation and manufacture must be maintained permanently and licensees must maintain all other acquisition and disposition records for 20 years.

Licensees who provided letters of future intent to sell semiautomatic assault weapons and large capacity ammunition feeding devices to law enforcement agencies and other qualified customers are no longer obligated to comply with such letters.

Anyone who illegally possessed, manufactured, or transferred semiautomatic assault weapons or large capacity ammunition feeding devices before the bans sunset still have violated the law since their possession, manufacture, or transfer was illegal at the time.


The prohibition on the importation of non-sporting firearms under 18 U.S.C. section 922(l) and 925(d)(3) still applies.

Importation of large capacity ammunition feeding devices still is covered under the Arms Export Control Act. Therefore an approved permit still is required to import large capacity magazines.

Temporary importation of semiautomatic assault weapons and large capacity magazines is now lawful under the provisions of 27 CFR § 478.115(d) because temporary importations are not subject to the sporting purpose test.


The prohibition on assembly of non-sporting shotguns and semiautomatic rifles from imported parts as provided under 18 U.S.C. § 922(r) and 27 CFR § 478.39 still applies.


Law enforcement officers and police departments who obtained semiautomatic assault weapons are no longer required to use such firearms only for official use.

Law enforcement officers and police departments may now sell or transfer semiautomatic assault weapons to persons who are not prohibited from receiving firearms.

Law enforcement officers and police departments may now sell or transfer large capacity ammunition feeding devices to anybody.

Signed statements that semiautomatic assault weapons and large capacity ammunition feeding devices will be used for official use are no longer required to be provided to Federal firearms licensees.


Federal law does not prohibit retiring law enforcement officers from keeping semiautomatic assault weapons or large capacity ammunition feeding devices.

Former law enforcement officers who received semiautomatic assault weapons on retirement may now transfer those firearms to persons who are not prohibited from receiving firearms. Transfer of large capacity ammunition feeding devices is no longer restricted.


All provisions of the National Firearms Act relating to registration and transfer of machineguns, short barreled rifles, weapons made from rifles, short barreled shotguns, weapons made from shotguns, any other weapons as defined in Title 26 U.S.C. section 5845(e), silencers, and destructive devices still apply.

Registered silencers can now be attached to semiautomatic rifles and pistols without creating a prohibited semiautomatic assault weapon.

USAS-12 and Striker12/Streetsweeper shotguns are still classified as destructive devices under ATF Rulings 94-1 and 94-2 and must be possessed and transferred in accordance with the NFA.


Expiration of the Federal law will not change any provisions of State law or local ordinances. Questions concerning State assault weapons restrictions should be referred to State and local authorities.


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W A R N I N G !

According to testimony at the Vermont Statehouse, almost 100,000 people are prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition.



Vermont law enforcement is presently enforcing Federal gun laws. They are doing so without Legislative authorization! They are enforcing something that is not against the law by State law!

If you are one of these classes of people you cannot possess a firearm or ammunition and you will be going to Federal prison for ten years!

A convicted felon or anybody facing a felony charge.

A felon is not only a murderer, mugger or thief, but by Vermont statute, includes anyone who bounced a check over twenty dollars even if it was 40 years ago.

Fugitive from justice.

Have an unpaid parking ticket? You are fugitive and you can spend 10 years in Federal prison.

Drug user or addict.

If you have glaucoma or cancer and are arrested for smoking and/or growing marijuana, even if you are not convicted of anything and you have even a single bullet, you can go to Federal prison for 10 years!

Non-immigrant aliens.

If you are a resident alien and you have a firearm, you go to prison for 10 years or face deportation. If you are a resident alien, you have no right to a firearm!

Mental defectives or persons committed at any time to a mental institution.

Anyone who has a nervous breakdown and commits himself or herself to any institution is barred from owning firearms or ammo for the rest of their life.

People who have formally given up their U.S. citizenship.

Did you give up your citizenship in the 60’s? Or since then?

People who have been dishonorably discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces.

Gone AWOL? Show up late for boot camp? Accidentally hit an officer? Disobey an order? Refuse to serve under UN or NATO command? There are hundreds of reasons that will get you discharged dishonorably.

Anyone convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence and anyone with a simple restraining order.

This bars you from owning or possessing a firearm or ammo for the rest of your life! A vindictive spouse or partner could cost you your guns! By State statute, all your spouse or partner has to do is say they’re afraid of you in front of a judge and you are barred forever from owning a firearm. In this day and age, any lawyer handling a divorce case will tell their client to issue a restraining order against their spouse.

If you give or sell a handgun or ammo to someone under 18, including your children and grandchildren.

Driving by a school with a firearm.

If you drive within 1000 feet of a school zone, you are in violation of Federal law, even if you are only on your way to work or going hunting.

The flyer put out by the Vermont State Police says that they will enforce these laws with NO EXCEPTIONS and no second chances.

As examples:

Dan Ehlers of Barnet has recently been arrested for lying on his ATF background check when trying to purchase a firearm. He had a trial pending on a marijuana charge. Although he has not been tried yet for that charge, he has been convicted on the resulting firearm charge, and faces a possible sentence of 10 years in Federal prison and $250,000 fine. Whatever happened to “innocent until proven guilty”?

Steven Dodge was arrested while travelling with 3 other individuals, 2 of whom had firearms. Both of his armed companions had handgun permits. Dodge was not in possession of a firearm or any ammunition, but was merely in the presence of firearms. Being one of the “prohibited” persons – he was arrested and is now spending 2 years in prison.

Thomas Brennan, another “prohibited person”, was arrested for the possession of ammunition. Twenty-three rounds of 38-caliber handgun ammunition were found in his car. He is now in prison for the mere possession of ammunition.

Are you next? There are literally thousands of reasons why they can arrest you under Federal laws. We believe that Vermont law enforcement should not be enforcing these. The Vermont Constitution Chapter 1 Article 5th states that Vermont law enforcement can only enforce Vermont law … not Federal law.

The Gun Owners of Vermont is working right now in the legislature to stop the State Police from enforcing these unconstitutional laws and we need your help. Please call the State House at 800-322-5616 and leave a message for Representative Steve Adams, Chair of the Fish & Wildlife Committee, telling him that you want hearings on Project Safe Vermont as soon as possible. Please call and have your friends and family call also. Help keep our beautiful State free.

If your Representative is: Larson of Burlington, Audette of South Burlington, Brown of Walden, Houston of Ferrisburg, Hummell of Underhill, Miller of Shaftsbury, Sheltra of Derby, or Smith of Morristown, call them at 800-322-5616 and tell them you want hearings.

For additional information, contact Ed Cutler at 802-463-9026 weeknights between 6 and 9pm. We need to work together on this –immediately-.


Student Organization Working To Promote
Second Amendment

Students for the Second Amendment, a non-partisan, campus-based student organization dedicated to educating people about their Second Amendment rights, is sponsoring speakers, workshops and events on college and high school campuses across the country. For more information, call (210) 674-5559.

[new]  Vigilant Vermont and the Right to Bear Arms


By Karen Kerin, Treasurer,

Gun Owners of Vermont

Vermont is the envy of the gun owning Americans in other states. While several states now have passed legislation allowing for the carrying of guns openly or concealed, (e.g.. Alaska), the undisputed model is ours. However, many here in Vermont do not understand just how tenuous our right to carry really is. Lest you doubt it, consider what the Vermont Constitution says:

Article 16. [Right to bear arms; standing armies; military power subordinate to civil]

That the people have a right to bear arms for the defense [sic] of themselves and the State--and as standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; and that the military should be kept under strict subordination to and governed by the civil power.

Notice that it says nothing about carrying openly or concealed, nor does it specify pistols versus rifles or long guns. It is really broadly drafted and lacking in specificity. What makes this language particularly strong for our purposes is the Vermont Supreme Court interpretation of the meaning of the words. It is appropriate to review what the court said, since it last spoke on May 30, 1903 – fully a century ago.

State v. Rosenthal, 75 Vt. 295, 55 A. 610 (1903) is the slim thread of interpretation on which our famous gun rights depend. The case involved Section 10 of the Rutland City ordinances. "No person shall carry within the city any steel or brass knuckles, pistol, slung [sic] shot, stiletto, or weapon of similar character, nor carry any weapon concealed on his person, without permission of the mayor or chief of police in writing". Mr. Rosenthal did carry a loaded pistol in Rutland and was charged with violating the ordinance. Rosenthal demurred, that is he admitted to the facts, but challenged the law.

The Supreme Court, in ruling, pointed out that section 24 of the city charter gave the city the right to create or repeal ordinances "not inconsistent with the charter or with the [Vermont] Constitution or laws of the United States or of this state [Vermont]". The court determined that

the ordinance was inconsistent with Article 16 of the Vermont Constitution and therefore was void. "Judgment reversed and sentence [of the lower court] set aside, demurrer sustained, complaint adjudged insufficient and quashed, and the respondent discharged and let go without [delay]." That is pretty strong language slapping down an ordinance, but it has stood for one hundred years.

What is particularly interesting in the opinion is a side issue. "In State v. Carlton, 48 Vt. 636, it was held that the owner of land, having the right to use reasonable force in expelling a trespasser there from, had a right to go prepared to defend himself against any assault that trespasser might make upon him while in the exercise of that right and that if he only intended to use a pistol in such an emergency in defending his own life, or against the infliction of great bodily harm, the carrying of the pistol for such purpose would be lawful." A number of interesting points flow from this. First, no one knows when one might be assaulted. Hence, unless forbidden by law, a person is entitled to carry a weapon for self-defense. Second, a right to defend ones’ property is a permissible use for a pistol. Presumably, that extends to a lessee, a person who rents land or a dwelling situated on another person’s land. The court also pointed out that carrying a gun concealed could not be made subordinate to the whimsy of local officials dispensing a right as a controlled privilege.

There is here an important lesson of which we must all take heed. The words alone of the Constitution’s Article 16 are not sufficient without the support of the court interpreting the words as they did in this landmark case. Our great caution must be to choose our justices of the Supreme Court carefully and to be mindful of the statutes the federal government might think to overrule our State right to bear arms.



New Legislation

The Most Sweeping Gun Ban Ever Introduced in Congress Clinton Gun Ban "Reenactment" Bans Millions More Guns

H.R. 2038, introduced by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.), does not just "reenact" or "reauthorize" the 1994 Clinton ban, the so-called "assault weapon" law. It bans millions more guns. And it begins backdoor registration of guns. All told, it's a giant step closer to the goal stated by Clinton gun ban sponsor Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), on CBS 60 Minutes "If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States for an outright ban, picking up every one of them, Mr. and Mrs. America, turn them all in, I would have done it." There is no 10-year sunset provision in the bill. H.R. 2038 permanently bans every gun that is currently banned and, with numerous, overlapping provisions:

  • Bans every gun made to comply with the Clinton ban. The Clinton ban dictated the kinds of grips, stocks and attachments new guns can have. Manufacturers and gun owners complied and new guns conform to the Clinton requirements. H.R. 2038 bans the new guns too.


  • Bans guns exempted by name or type under the Clinton ban. Commonplace Ruger Mini-14s, Mini-30s, Ranch Rifles, .30 Caliber Carbines, and fixed-magazine semi-automatic center-fire rifles.


  • Bans all semi-automatic shotguns. Bans Remington, Winchester, Beretta, Benelli, and other shotguns commonly used for hunting, trap, skeet, sporting clays, and self-defense. Bans them by banning their main component, called the "receiver" (Sec. 2(a)(30)(J)), and bans them because they have "any characteristic that can function as a grip"(Sec. 2(H)(ii) and (b)(42)). Any characteristic.


  • Bans all detachable-magazine semi-automatic rifles because they have "any characteristic that can function as a grip." (Sec. 2(a)(30)(D)(iii) and (iv), and (b)(41) and (42)). Any characteristic.


  • Bans target shooting rifles. Bans the three centerfire rifles most popular for marksmanship competitions: the Colt AR-15, the Springfield M1A and the M1 "Garand."


  • Bans guns for self-defense. Bans any semi-automatic shotgun or rifle an Attorney General one day claims isn't "sporting," even though the U.S. Constitution, the constitutions of 44 states, and the laws of all 50 states recognize the right to use guns for defense.


  • Bans 65 named guns (the Clinton law bans 19); Bans semi-auto fixed-magazine pistols of over 10 rounds capacity; Bans frames, receivers, and parts used to repair or refurbish guns; Bans importation of magazines exempted by the Clinton ban; Bans selling a legally-owned "assault weapon" with a magazine of over 10 rounds capacity.


  • Bans guns rarely used in crime. A fact demonstrated by every state and local law enforcement agency report on the subject. The Congressionally-mandated study of the Clinton ban found that the guns "were never used in more than a fraction of all gun murders."


  • Begins backdoor registration. Requires manufacturers of guns, frames, receivers, and other parts to report the names of their dealers. Requires dealers to report any of the guns and parts they have in stock. Bans private sales of the guns and parts. The next step is to register individual purchasers.


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Introduced by   Representative Sweetser of Essex

Referred to Committee on


Subject:  Court procedure; immunity from liability; gun ownership protection act

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to prohibit the state and municipalities from suing a firearms manufacturer, importer, or retailer without the approval of the general assembly.


It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1.  12 V.S.A. § 5784 is added to read:


(a)  Neither the state of Vermont nor any municipality shall initiate, join, support, or participate in any civil suit against a firearms manufacturer, importer, distributor, or retailer without the specific and explicit approval of the general assembly.

(b)  Subsection (a) of this section shall not apply to an action for breach of warranty with respect to firearms purchased and owned by the state or a municipality.


Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont

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Introduced by   Representative Sweetser of Essex

Referred to Committee on


Subject:  Conservation; Act 250; shooting ranges; nuisance exemption

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to exempt owners, operators, and users of shooting ranges from criminal liability relating to noise when the range is used in a lawful manner.  The bill also exempts shooting ranges from Act 250.


It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

* * * Shooting Range Exemptions * * *

Sec. 1.  10 V.S.A. § 5227 is amended to read:

§ 5227.  SPORT SHOOTING RANGES; MUNICIPAL AND STATE                                              AUTHORITY

(a)  "Sport shooting range" or "range" means an area designed and operated for the use of archery, rifles, shotguns, pistols, skeet, trap, black powder, or any other similar sport shooting.

(b)  The owner or operator of a sport shooting range, and a person lawfully using the range, who is in substantial compliance with any noise use condition of any issued municipal or state land use permit otherwise required by law shall not be subject to criminal responsibility or to any civil liability for damages or any injunctive relief resulting from noise or noise pollution, notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary. 

(c)  If no municipal or state land use permit is otherwise required by law, then the owner or operator of the range and any person lawfully using the range shall not be subject to criminal responsibility or to any civil liability for damages or any injunctive relief relating to noise or noise pollution.

(d)  Nothing in this section shall prohibit or limit the authority of a municipality or the state to enforce any condition of a lawfully issued and otherwise required permit.

* * * Shooting Range Exemption from Act 250 * * *

Sec. 2.  10 V.S.A. § 6081(q) is added to read:

(q)  No permit is required under subsection (a) of this section for the construction, operation, or expansion of a shooting range.


Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont



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