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Press Conference Statement on Vermont Senate Bill S-6

Press Conference Statement on Vermont Senate Bill S-6 – January 10, 2017

An act related to requiring background checks for the transfer of firearms

The following statement was delivered by the Rt. Rev. Thomas C. Ely in a press conference at the Vermont Statehouse on Tuesday, January 10, 2017.

My name is Thomas Ely. I serve as Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Vermont, and I am a member of Bishops United Against Gun Violence, a coalition of 70 Episcopal Church Bishops, around the country, committed to reducing incidents of gun violence. Senate Bill S-6 is a positive step in that direction.

The motivation of Bishops United Against Gun Violence is an ethical one stemming from the belief that violence in any form is an affront against God, whose deep desire is that we reconcile our differences through peaceful means.

Firearms used in the commission of crimes, domestic violence, aggravated assault, violence against law enforcement officials and suicide is an anathema to me and, I believe, to the people of the Episcopal Church in Vermont.

The current statutes regulating the purchase of firearms in Vermont allow those who want to obtain firearms for illicit purposes to do so, without the benefit to the wider society of a background check. Meanwhile, stable and law abiding gun owners undergo background checks as a matter of course when purchasing their guns from licensed firearms merchants.

Too many have died due to gun violence for us to stand by and do nothing, when there is clearly something we can do. Today, my heart rests with every person who has been killed or injured because of gun violence, as well as with their family and friends. That feeling is especially poignant in those situations where the perpetrator obtained a lethal weapon with no vetting as to the status of their mental health, criminal record, or history of violence. We can do better. I support Senate Bill S-6.

Photo credit: By Jonathanking – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

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