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Burlington withholding more ‘gun ordinance’ documents from public scrutiny

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Continuing a pattern of denying public access to official documents and correspondence related to its efforts to enact local “gun control” legislation in Vermont, a state that currently has preemption over such laws, the City of Burlington is withholding and redacting additional information, the Vermont Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs reported Tuesday.

Gun Rights Examiner readers were informed of the city’s attempts to circumvent state law and of VFSC’s statutory information request in September. Since that initial report, the city at first rejected VFSC’s request, only to then agree to make documents accessible following a second request. As a subsequent report revealed, the city’s plan is to achieve what they can get and then come back and try for more later, with the ultimate and admitted goal of ending state preemption so cities can enact whatever anti-gun edicts they wish.

Citing a material review session at City Hall last Wednesday by VFSC officers Chris Bradley and Evan Hughes, the report notes “the city produced 540 Emails of which 46 were originals and the rest were duplications of previously provided items.

“This brings the overall total of emails provided by Burlington to 2,544 -- of which approximately 625 are non-duplicates,” the report explained, noting the city acknowledges 117 documents have been withheld thus far and that approximately 500 more are also expected to be withheld from public view in spite of VFSC’s Public Record Law request.

If the city is successful in its quest, it would have “the power to arrest, prosecute, imprison, fine and seize the property of citizens,” VFSC observed. Yet it is refusing to share what should be public information on its activities to undermine the right of all Vermonters to keep and bear arms.

“The two attachments [see photo accompanying this article] are examples of what the city will show of each of the 117 documents it has withheld from the public,” VFSC advised this morning in a follow-up email to its supporters. They include a totally blanked-out memorandum on Mayor Miro Weinberger’s official letterhead, and an email from Sr. Assistant City Attorney Eugene Bergman to City Attorney Eileen Blackwood and Assistant Attorney Gregg Meyer on the subject of “Assault Weapon Ban,” with an attachment titled “EMB assault weapons draft two (gb comments and edits) (8-01-13) doc.x.”

While that proposed ban has been tabled from the current ordinance proposals the city is pressing forward with, there are those in city government who have made it clear they will be back for more if they can get less ambitious measures passed first. To withhold how proposals are being developed, who is doing the proposing, what suggestions and discussion have ensued and how final measures are shaped is to withhold information legitimately being sought by those who will have to live with the end product. It is difficult to imagine how that can be justified as consistent with the public interest and legitimate governance.

“Is this the way you believe Vermont law should be enacted?” VFSC asks.

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