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Vermont city takes step toward banning assault rifles

By Marlena Baldacci, CNN
January 9, 2013 -- Updated 1722 GMT (0122 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Burlington City Council passes resolution banning assault rifles, high-capacity magazines
  • Sponsoring City Councilor prompted to act after Connecticut school shooting
  • Many meeting attendees opposed the ban, calling it too broad and unwarranted

Burlington, Vermont (CNN) -- A resolution passed in the most populous city in Vermont could lead to a ban on assault rifles and high-capacity magazines.

Burlington's City Council members voted 10-3 in favor of the resolution. City Councilor Norm Blais, a Democrat, said he was moved to sponsor the proposal after hearing what he called President Barack Obama's pleas to have a discussion about weapons in our country after the deadly Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, in December.

Next, the resolution has to be presented in public hearings, voted on by the public and be approved by the state legislature before it becomes city law.

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Blais said his city wasn't nearly as safe as people thought, saying that "if somebody was not a convicted felon and was walking through our thoroughfare and had an AK-47 slung over his shoulder, there's nothing we could do about that. Most people are surprised to hear that."

But most people at Monday's city council meeting spoke out against the resolution, calling it too broad and unwarranted, according to CNN affiliate WPTZ. Burlington Police Chief Michael Schirling said most gun crime in the city involves handguns, not assault weapons, WPTZ reported.

Vermont is one of the most lenient states when it comes to gun laws, allowing concealed or openly carried firearms without permits anywhere except school property and courthouses.

CNN affiliate WCAX reported that meeting attendee Matt Storer encouraged the city council to not pass the amendment based on emotions because of recent events. "I think it's a dangerous course to let emotions get into the driver's seat when writing legislation that could potentially infringe on constitutional rights."

Blais told CNN he had intentionally drafted the proposal broadly so that he could encompass details from officials and those in the community who support gun rights to ensure a fairly written amendment.

He said he was not looking to keep sportsmen from hunting and people from being able to defend themselves but rather wants to make sure what happened in Newtown did not happen in his city.

New Congress, new push for gun laws

For more on this story go to CNN affiliates WPTZ and WCAX.

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