On April 11, 2018, Gov. Phil Scott strode onto the steps of the Vermont State House and signed into law the first major restrictions on gun ownership in the state’s history. The move represented a dramatic about face for the Republican governor — and the culmination of a years-long organizing effort led by gun safety advocates, legislators, and most recently, thousands of Vermont high school students. Sen. Philip Baruth proposed one of the first gun control measures in 2013, only to withdraw the legislation after it received no support that year. Moments before joining Scott for the bill signing, he reflected on the long and often lonely fight to enact gun control in Vermont, and what lies ahead. We also hear from callers with their views on the new laws. (April 11, 2018 broadcast)
Can students and teachers change the story on gun violence and school cutbacks? One month after the school massacre in Parkland, Florida, students across the country and throughout wintry Vermont walked out of class to demand new gun safety laws. Student activist Hazel MacMillan, a junior at Harwood Union High School in Moretown, Vt., speaks to us from the Vermont State House about student-led efforts to press for stricter gun safety laws and where the movement goes from here. And Vermont NEA president Martha Allen reacts to Pres. Trump’s demand to arm teachers, and how educators are resisting school cutbacks. (March 14, 2018 broadcast)
Hazel MacMillan, student activist & junior, Harwood Union High School, Vt.
Martha Allen, president, Vermont National Education Association
In December 2012, Adam Lanza, 20, shot and killed 26 students and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. Ann Braden, a stay at home mother of two in Brattleboro, VT, decided enough was enough. Shortly after the Newton killing, she gathered 12,000 signatures on a petition calling for universal background checks on all gun sales in Vermont. Braden looked for an organization pursuing common sense gun safety in Vermont, but didn’t find any. So she started her own. In early 2013, Braden founded Gun Sense VT. Her tireless efforts are now paying off. In the wake of another school shooting in Florida and the arrest of a would-be school shooter in Vermont, Gov. Phil Scott has reversed his earlier opposition and now backs several gun control measures. Braden recently stepped down as director of the organization to finish writing a young adult novel and run for State Senate in 2020. She applauds the student-led #NeverAgain gun safety movement and says, “My hope is that when someone raises a question about gun safety, that we can discuss it rationally and move forward.” (March 7, 2018 broadcast)
In the wake of a school shooting in Parkland, Florida that killed 17 people, students from around Vermont have streamed out of their schools and into the Vermont State House to demand new gun control laws. They are part of a national grassroots student movement for gun safety saying #NeverAgain. The response has been remarkable: Gov. Phil Scott has reversed his previous opposition to gun control and now backs universal background checks, confiscation of weapons from those deemed an “extreme risk,” and raising the minimum age to 21 for someone to purchase a gun. Nationally, major retailers such as Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart will no longer sell guns to anyone under 21, and serious discussion about gun control is now on the table. Students have led this movement and intend to keep up the pressure with protests, walkouts, and appearances in the State House. We speak to three student activists who traveled to the Vermont State House to demand action and say #NeverAgain. (February 28, 2018 broadcast)
Meagan Filkowski, senior, Harwood Union High School, Moretown, Vt.
Gabe Groveman, 8th grader, Twinfield Union High School, Marshfield, Vt.
Hannah Pandya, senior, St. Johnsbury Academy, St. Johnsbury, Vt.
The Vt Commission on Women reports that 60 percent of women say they’ve experienced sexual harassment at work, and most of those say they have experienced retaliation for speaking up about it. Rep. Sarah Copeland-Hanzas (D-Bradford) is lead sponsor of a bill to change Vermont’s sexual harassment laws to ban non-disclosure agreements and protect victims’ rights. She says that the #MeToo movement inspired the legislation in Vermont. She has also advanced legislation that would put a price on carbon, and discusses the need to keep up the pressure for new gun safety laws. Copeland-Hanzas was first elected to the Vermont House of Representatives in 2004 and is the former House majority leader. (February 28, 2018 broadcast)