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Vermont Legislature
Follow VPR's statehouse coverage, featuring Pete Hirschfeld and Bob Kinzel in our Statehouse Bureau in Montpelier.

Scott To Decide Soon On Waiting Period Legislation For Gun Purchases

Gov. Phil Scott, seen here in 2018 signing several controversial gun bills into law at a table outside the Vermont Statehouse, while others look on.
Emily Alfin Johnson
VPR file
Gov. Phil Scott, seen here in 2018 signing several controversial gun bills into law, said Wednesday morning that he hasn't decided whether he'll veto legislation passed this year that would create a waiting period for gun purchases.

Gov. Phil Scott has five days to decide whether Vermont will become the 10th state in the country to have a waiting period for gun purchases.

Legislation that would create a 24-hour waiting period for handgun purchases arrived on Scott’s desk Tuesday. Scott said Wednesday morning that he still hasn’t decided whether he’ll sign the bill, veto it or allow it to become law without his signature.

More from VPR — Recapping The Fate Of 24 Bills From Vermont's 2019 Legislative Session

Supporters of the legislation say the 24-hour waiting period would reduce suicide rates in Vermont by preventing impulsive acts of self-harm. Scott said he wants to corroborate that claim before making a decision on the bill, and will be “reaching out to the Health Department to get some data, if there’s any that exists.”

Last year, Scott signed a suite of controversial gun bills into law. His decision to support universal background checks, a ban on high-capacity magazines and raising the legal age to purchase a firearm won him praise from gun control advocates.

That good will could come undone, however, if Scott decides to veto waiting period legislation that passed both the House and Senate this year.

“Well I will be very disappointed in him, and so will most of our members,” Clai Lasher-Sommers, head of GunSense Vermont, said Wednesday.

Opponents of the legislation say there’s little data to support the claim that a 24-hour waiting period would reduce suicide rates in the state. They also say the legislation is an undue restriction on Vermonter’s constitutional right to bear arms.

Reached Wednesday, Chris Bradley — the president of the Vermont Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs — said he had no comment on the legislation, other than to say that Scott knows where his members on the bill.

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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