'The Gun Bug Bit Hard': The Role Of Guns In Vermont

Aug 7, 2017

This week as part of our Gunshots series, we asked Vermonters about the role of guns in their lives. Robin Earle, a 28-year-old graphic designer living in Milton, shared these thoughts.

I started shooting right after I graduated from one of the Burlington colleges, and the gun bug bit hard.

Within a year and a half, I had acquired four guns.

Two I bought, a .45 caliber 1911 and a Molot Vepr in .308.

One I inherited, a 20-gauge side-by-side shotgun owned by my grandfather, and the last one, an AR-15, I built, kind of like a Lego set for adults.

A year after that, I sold one of them to buy a 9 millimeter Walther pistol, which is now my very favorite gun.

I don't hunt, and have no desire to, but I get down to Charlotte every month or two to shoot paper plates with friends.

While I do keep a pistol in my car, and another under my bed, I don't carry anything with me when I'm walking around because I’ve never felt safer anywhere outside of Vermont.

The one in the car is just in case I hit a deer.

I don’t want it to be writhing around in pain until it eventually dies. Like almost all people who carry a gun, though, I hope I never have to use it.

I think that for the demographics and culture in Vermont, our laws work pretty well. What we have wouldn't necessarily work everywhere, though.

Different laws are necessary in different places, with different people, and different cultures.

Still, there are two things that I think we should have in Vermont to make guns safer.

First, The FBI has a database that firearm dealers use called the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. I think it should be publically available so private citizens can do cheap or free background checks before they sell their guns to other citizens.

Right now, the system does exist, but it’s prohibitively expensive and inconvenient to use unless you’re a licensed firearms dealer.

The second thing I think we should have is a one-hour class to acquaint new gun owners with their guns.

If you’re already familiar with the type of gun you've just bought, you should be able to test out of the class, but I don’t think that basic handling, cleaning and safety training is too much to ask of someone who has a potentially lethal new tool.

The only reason I know how to use any of my guns is because I watched just about every YouTube video I could find about each of them before I tried to use any of them, but I know that not everyone does that.

Robin Earle is a graphic designer in Milton.

Gunshots Project Homepage | Vermont Voices: How Do Guns Fit Into Your Life? | The Data: Vermont Gun Deaths, 2011-2016