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State Sen. Dick Sears says he's open to gun law conversations following Maine shooting

A man in a brown wool suit jacket stands with his hands crossed at his desk on the Senate floor, his eyes downcast. He is wearing a woolen cap.
Abagael Giles
Vermont Public
Sen. Dick Sears, a democrat from Bennington, explains his vote in favor of overriding Gov. Scott's veto of the Affordable Heat Act on the Senate floor Tuesday, May 9.

The mass shooting in Maine this week hit close to home for many Vermont lawmakers. The deadly incident will spur a conversation about Vermont’s gun laws during the upcoming legislative session.

At a meeting of the Joint Legislative Justice Oversight Committee on Thursday, Bennington County Sen. Dick Sears opened the hearing with a moment of silence for the victims in Lewiston, Maine.

“For me the idea that it can’t happen here is pretty foreign when it happens over in Lewiston, Maine, a town very similar to many Vermont communities, so I think a moment of silence is in order," Sears says.

Sears says he’s open to a conversation about a ban on semiautomatic rifles. But he says he’s not convinced a state-level prohibition would improve gun safety, unless surrounding states do the same.

"Unless there’s a ban in New Hampshire, unless there’s a ban in New York, wherever in the surrounding areas, it doesn’t do much,” Sears says.

In an interview with Vermont Public on Friday, Sears said he wants to look at expanding the state’s red flag law. He says he also wants to ban the sale of so-called ghost guns, which are untraceable firearms that people can buy or build without a background check.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or contact reporter Peter Hirschfeld:


The Vermont Statehouse is often called the people’s house. I am your eyes and ears there. I keep a close eye on how legislation could affect your life; I also regularly speak to the people who write that legislation.
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