Gun rally set for Statehouse steps Saturday – this time in favor of stricter controls

A well-attended rally on the steps of the Statehouse last month helped kill off a proposed ban on assault weapons. Now one woman wants to use a similar tactic to bring it back to life.

Montpelier resident Danielle LaFleur Brooks says the voices of Vermonters who support stricter gun-control measures have been drowned out by a better organized opposition. At a rally outside the Statehouse this Saturday morning, Brooks aims to demonstrate to lawmakers the intensity of public support for new curbs on guns.

“I’m beginning to realize that the other side is really loud and really good at getting their side heard,” Brooks says. “I just wanted to create a space for the other side to show there are other voices out there.”

Brooks said she saw the power of public protest last month, when about 250 activists convened outside the Statehouse one Saturday to decry the assault weapons ban. Less than 24 hours later, Sen. Philip Baruth, the Chittenden County Democrat who introduced it, notified colleagues that he intended to withdraw the proposed ban.

“I thought we were at least going to have a conversation about this,” Brooks said. “And I was just so upset to see it taken off the table like that.”

While Brooks’ event was borne out of a desire to realize a ban on assault weapons, she says the rally is designed to spotlight public support for a range of control measures. Rep. Linda Waite-Simpson, an Essex Democrat, has introduced legislation in the Vermont House that would, among other things, impose a statewide ban on high capacity magazines and require background checks at gun shows.

Waite-Simpson, who plans to attend the Saturday rally, said she’s heartened to see proponents of gun control coming together.

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