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Vermont Senate to debate 72-hour waiting period for gun purchases

Looking down on the empty Vermont Senate chamber, with papers at desks
Elodie Reed
The Senate will soon take up a bill intended to reduce suicides by firearm.

By a narrow margin, the Senate Judiciary Committee has approved legislation that includes a 72-hour waiting period for gun purchases.

Backers of the plan say it's needed to help reduce Vermont's suicide rate, which is far above the national average.

In 2021, there were 142 suicides in the state — and nearly 60% involved a firearm. Supporters of the legislation argue that many of those decisions were impulsive decisions that a waiting period may have prevented.

More from Vermont Public: A record number of Vermonters died from guns in 2021. The vast majority were suicides.

"The question that I've had from the beginning is, you know, where's the background, the research to support that," said Windham Sen. Nader Hasim, speaking in support of the plan, "and there are other states that we've talked about that have these waiting periods — 72 hours — and have seen a reduction. So I think 72 hours is fine."

But gun advocates think a waiting period would unnecessarily restrict firearm purchases and have minimal impact on the state's suicide rate.

Franklin Sen. Robert Norris was one of two committee members who voted again the plan.

"Basically whether we're talking about 24 hours or 72 hours, I'm not in favor of any waiting period for the purchase of firearms," Norris said, "and I can assure you that many of my constituents that I represent have reached out to me and they're not in any support of a waiting period."

Committee chairman Dick Sears also voted against the 72-hour waiting period.

The full Senate is expected to consider this issue in the near future.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, help is available:

Have questions, comments or tips?Send us a message.

Bob Kinzel has been covering the Vermont Statehouse since 1981 — longer than any continuously serving member of the Legislature. With his wealth of institutional knowledge, he answers your questions on our series, "Ask Bob."
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