Gun bill with 72-hour waiting period clears Vermont Senate
The Vermont Senate has given final approval to legislation that supporters say will help reduce gun violence in the state.
But opponents think the bill is an attack on their Second Amendment rights.
The legislation creates a 72-hour waiting period to purchase a gun, it requires safe storage of firearms in homes, and it expands the jurisdiction of extreme risk protection orders.
One of lawmakers' major goals is to reduce the number of suicides that involve a firearm. Vermont's overall suicide rate is well above the national average, and a gun was used in almost two-thirds of cases in 2021.
Essex Sen. Russ Ingalls said he doubts the bill would lower those numbers. And he sees it as part of a much larger issue.
"Vermont is a safe state, one of the safest in the nation," Ingalls said, "but we are under attack — we're not under attack by guns — we're under attack every day with bills that propose — and some passed into law — that attack some of our most fundamental and cherished rights."
Meanwhile, Judiciary chairman Dick Sears told colleagues that he has not always supported gun restrictions in the past, but he's been persuaded that lawmakers need to act.
"We have a crisis on our hands," Sears said. "I'm not this person who looks at firearm safety and says, 'Boy we've got to do this, we've got to do this, we've got to do this' — but we're at a point in this country where it's time to take a serious look at firearm violence."
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The bill doesn't necessarily have an easy path to becoming law, even if it makes it through the Legislature. It's among a handful of high-profile policies that could find themselves under Gov. Phil Scott's veto pen.
"I just think it's the constant erosion of individual rights — you know, I vetoed something that was close to that in the past, so we'll see," Scott said.
In an interview on Vermont Edition on Monday, the governor specifically objected to the 72-hour waiting period for gun transfers because he believes it would violate the Second Amendment.
The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 19 to 9. It now awaits House review.
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