Gun resolution dominates Cavendish Town Meeting

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Thirteen minutes was all it took for the residents of Cavendish — led by moderator Mike Ripley — to fly through the legal articles on the Annual Town Meeting Warning. But a non-binding resolution regarding the right to keep firearms sparked a discussion and vote that took up more than half of the two-hour meeting. And it failed.

Cavendish Select Board member Stu Lindberg introduces his resolution to protect gun ownership. Photos by Shawn Cunningham

About 55 residents were gathered in the Cavendish Elementary School’s multi-purpose room Monday night as the meeting began with reports on the current legislative session from state Rep. Annmarie Christensen and Sen. Alison Clarkson. Christensen, who serves on the healthcare committee, told the meeting that the Springfield Hospital and clinics will get through bankruptcy and that the health clinics are safe. She said that the hospital is in talks with Dartmouth-Hitchcock, Valley Regional Healthcare and Mt. Ascutney Hospital about forming an alliance and that the hospital and clinics expect to come of bankruptcy in the fall.

Clarkson noted that U.S. News and World Reports rated Vermont the 5th best state to live in and that the legislature is doing “lots of incenting.” Among the areas where incentives are being discussed are housing, construction density in downtowns, and neighborhood and job development. Clarkson also said committees she serves on are working on reducing student debt and criminal justice reform including a target of 10 percent reduction in the prison population.

Noting that Christensen comes to Cavendish once a year, Carl Snyder asked her why she isn’t more present in the community. Christensen said she gets a lot of feedback and suggestions by phone and email but said she would try to be around more.

After the legal articles – including the $1.576 million budget – were passed, Select Board member Stu Lindberg introduced a non-binding “resolution for the defense of the right to keep and bear arms” and Ripley noted that the Select Board had decided to put this to a vote and have the community-wide conversation. He then invited discussion.

Residents line up to vote on the firearms resolution

A number of people questioned why the town should vote on the resolution in the first place since the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution already protects the right to bear arms. Stephen Plunkard asked if bazookas and machine guns were included in the intent of the resolution, to which Lindberg said those were either illegal or heavily regulated.

Several residents rose to express their fears that legislation could erode their rights to guns and the resolution was a way of “giving voice” to their support for those rights. One compared two types of rifle using the same ammunition and noting that one could be seen as an assault weapon while the other – perhaps deadlier – would not.

A number of the supporters of the amendment said that they owned guns, trained in using them, trained their children to use them and kept them secure.

Several others were concerned about what the resolution says about the community. One said she would rather that the not be known as a “gun-owner township.” Calling it a losing argument, another  asked if it wouldn’t be better to be known as “the town that looks after its elderly” or “that welcomed people in or tried to create jobs so our young people aren’t leaving.”

Lindberg was asked why the town needed this resolution and he answered that it is an affirmation to an existing law, noting that there are proposals for legislation that would make him a felon for owning a type of gun.

As discussion was winding down several members of the assembled asked for a paper ballot to be used rather than a voice vote or show of hands. Town Clerk Diane McNamara conducted the voting and the final result was 31 votes in favor and 33 votes against.

The meeting then quickly adjourned.

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  1. Justin Turco says:

    It would have cost them nothing.

    They were giving you nothing.

    They couldn’t allow you to make that little symbolic statement?

    What if it were free speech? They just silenced your free speech with regard to the relationship between the second amendment and the document that protects free speech. IE: leave it alone.

    Should of never had to vote on this! For over 230 years…..This is a settled argument. Just a simple symbolic message from your select board and fellow freedom lovers in the room that night…..on your behalf….to the state legislature.

    When somebody comes for THEIR free speech…..tell them, “They took my guns…so…. sorry…can’t and WONT help you.”

  2. Ilse Vergi says:

    Only two votes!!! Shame on the two progun people who didn’t go to the meeting.