How Do Guns Fit Into Your Life?
We asked Vermonters about the role of guns in their lives. Here’s what they had to say.
On a given day, Vermonters interact with guns in myriad ways.
Some go hunting with rifles that have been in the family for generations. Some take target practice with friends. Some shoot competitively, a hobby where competitors can learn good safety practices and make new friends. Some keep a gun on their waist for personal protection.
For all of those interactions with firearms every day in Vermont, a very small minority end in an injury or death. Most of the time, people in Vermont who own and use guns do so in a way that doesn’t lead to tragedy or break the law.
As we dug into the data around gun deaths, we wanted to reach out to Vemonters to hear how people around the state understand their own relationships with guns.
Greg Schoppe, a Burlington-based web developer, grew up in Essex County where hunting in the mornings before elementary school was common and guns were a tool not unlike any other.
Last year, VPR commentator Deborah Lee Luskin, became a licensed hunter and bought her first gun after decades of never wanting to own one.
VPR commentator Maggie Brown Cassidy, a teacher and writer who lives in Putney, remembers being in schools in the aftermath of Columbine and Sandy Hook.
“If gun violence were seen as a medical problem,” she says, “we would be acting to address it.”
Robin Earle, a 28-year-old graphic designer living in Milton, moved to Vermont from Massachusetts in 2007. Soon thereafter “the gun bug bit hard.”
Robin has two suggestions for how Vermont could improve gun safety: improve access to inexpensive background checks and required gun handling, cleaning and safety training for new gun owners.
Hannah Rommer reached out to us to share her — and her father’s — story. She grew up in rural Southern Vermont, and now works as a music teacher and orchestra conductor in Hanover, New Hampshire.
“My dad is one of the 373 Vermonters who died by gun related suicide between 2011 and 2016,” Rommer said.
VPR’s Gunshots Project explores the role of guns in live — and death — in Vermont through commentary, data and in depth reporting.