Panelists discussing Second Amendment rights Tuesday evening in Cheray Hall 101 were, from left, Robert Letovsky of the business faculty, Ryan Wurmsdobler and Ralph Colantino of the campus group Young Americans for Freedom, Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan and Saint MIchael's Director of Public Safety Doug Babcock. Below left, Attorney General Donovan makes a point. (Photos by Patrick Gallivan).
The Saint Michael’s College campus chapter of the national group called Young Americans for Freedom sponsored a program about Second Amendment rights on Tuesday evening, featuring Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan and Saint Michael’s Director of Public Safety Doug Babcock.
Two students from the group – Ryan Wurmsdobler and Ralph Colantino, also participated as panelists along with their informal campus adviser, Robert Letovsky of the Saint Michael’s business faculty, who also arranged for Donovan to be part of the panel. The event was held in Cheray Hall 101, a large lecture hall in the main science building.
Wurmsdobler said he perceived there to be “a few points of consensus during the panel discussion -- one being that mental illness needs to be addressed, and that some measures preventing the mentally ill from having guns should be enforced.”
“There was also a general agreement that resources and expanded enforcement of current law enforcement agencies should be upheld, allowing the FBI and local jurisdictions be able to coordinate together more efficiently in order to enforce the law,” he said.
Wurmsdobler said he heard “differing views about the right to own an AR-15 within the panel itself. However, the backgrounds of the individuals such as Doug Babcock and T.J. Donovan provided some great discussion about the legal processes that officers and lawyers have to deal with on a daily basis when trying to enforce the law. They were both great guests and excellent speakers.” He also felt that the Q&A session also was very informative with “some great questions asked by both students and faculty.”
Letovsky shared his take on the discussion: “I think the Attorney General’s comments and those of Saint Michael’s Campus Security Director Doug Babcock captured the concerns of the law enforcement community perfectly, and focused the attention of the students who were present on the very real tradeoffs we are going to be facing in dealing with this scourge,” Letovsky said. “The two students each addressed another aspect of this issue, and were also able to introduce some very thought provoking issues and challenges for policymakers and citizens.”
Letovsky said the attorney general “spoke as a native Vermonter who understands and respects the place of Second Amendment rights in the state’s culture and history. At the same time, he emphasized that the level of scrutiny in terms of who is allowed to possess firearms has to be increased.
“He pointed to the common thread across every mass shooting incident over the past few years – the mental state of the perpetrator – to support his call for a more rigorous approach to background checks,” Letovsky said.