Vermont Gun Groups Take Aim at New Gun Laws

In this June 27, 2017, photo, a semiautomatic rifle is displayed with a 25-shot magazine, left, and a 10 shot magazine, right, at a gun store in Elk Grove, Calif. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

MONTPELIER, Vt. (CN) – A new law banning high-capacity ammunition magazines in Vermont has drawn a court challenge, with two gun shops, a lobbyist and a group of competitive shooters claiming that the measure is unconstitutional.

“Law-abiding citizens, however, who use firearms in defense of themselves, their families, and their homes, are now barred by Vermont’s new ban from owning and using prohibited, standard-capacity magazines,” the April 18 complaint states. “The new law will thus not prevent violent criminals from obtaining and using prohibited magazines, but it will make law-abiding Vermont citizens more vulnerable to criminal attack by depriving them of commonly-owned ammunition magazines.”

Filed in the Washington Civil Division of state Superior Court, the lawsuit is led by the Vermont Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, a lobbyist group. While the 17-page filing is signed by a partner at the Charlotte, Vermont, firm DiGenova & Toensing, it also brought in legal firepower from the Washington, D.C., firm Cooper & Kirk.

The complaint came just over a week after Republican Gov. Phil Scott signed the first significant gun-control measures in Vermont history.

As related to the court challenge, one of the laws now bans magazines for long guns that can carry more than 10 rounds. For handguns, the magazine-capacity is now 15.

But the law’s challengers say “there is nothing unusual or uncommonly ‘large’ about these magazines; if anything, they are best described as standard capacity magazines.”

The lawsuit contends that limiting magazine capacity will make law-abiding Vermonters more vulnerable to criminal attack, while also discouraging people from taking part in shooting competitions and events, thus hurting Vermont’s many gun clubs and shops.

“In its earliest days, individual Vermonters protected their property from the claims of various governments to that property,” the complaint states. “Since 1777, Vermont has sought to provide legal protection to the right of individuals to engage in lawful pursuits such as self-defense, training for self-defense, and recreational shooting.”

The lawsuit also references the 1775 capture of Fort Ticonderoga by Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys, “using their private arms.”

Scott’s push for gun reform follows the arrest earlier this year of 18-year-old Jack Sawyer on charges that he plotted to carry out a mass shooting at Fair Haven Union High School, where Sawyer had been a student.

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