Vermont State Rep. Fred Maslack has read the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as well as Vermont 's own Constitution very carefully, and his strict interpretation of these documents is popping some eyeballs in New England and elsewhere.
Maslack recently proposed a bill to register non-gun-owners and require them to pay a $500 fee to the state. Thus, Vermont would become the first state to require a permit for the luxury of going about unarmed and assess a fee of $500 for the privilege of not owning a gun.
Maslack read the "militia" phrase of the Second Amendment as not only affirming the right of the individual citizen to bear arms, but as a clear mandate to do so. He believes that universal gun ownership was advocated by the Framers of the Constitution as an antidote to a "monopoly of force" by the government as well as criminals.
Vermont 's constitution states explicitly that "the people have a right to bear arms for the defense of themselves and the State" and those persons who "conscientiously scrupulous of bearing arms" shall be required to "pay such equivalent." Clearly, says Maslack, Vermonters have a constitutional obligation to arm themselves so that they are capable of responding to "any situation that may arise".
Under the bill, adults who choose not to own a firearm would be required to register their name, address, Social Security Number, and driver's license number with the state. "There is a legitimate government interest in knowing who is prepared to defend the state should they be asked to do so," Maslack says.
Vermont already boasts a high rate of gun ownership along with the least restrictive laws of any state - it's currently the only state that allows a citizen to carry a concealed firearm without a permit.
This combinaton of plenty of guns and few laws regulating them has resulted in a crime rate that is the third lowest in the nation.
NOTE: I just checked for 2008, and VT is only the 7th lowest crime rate of the 50 states.