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After Waiting Period Veto, Scott Signals Openness To Other Gun Control Measures

Gov. Phil Scott, addressing reporters from a podium at a press conference
Peter Hirschfeld
Gov. Phil Scott, addressing reporters at a press conference in Montpelier Wednesday, said he remains open to new restrictions on gun ownership, despite his decision to veto legislation that would have instituted a waiting period for handgun purchases.

In his first public comments since vetoing legislation that would have instituted a 24-hour waiting period for handgun purchases, Gov. Phil Scott said Wednesday that he remains open to new restrictions on gun ownership in the future.

Scott, who announced the veto Monday, said he spent the weekend deliberating over what to do with the waiting period bill. After reviewing data from the nine other states that have waiting period laws on the books, the Republican governor said he was unconvinced that legislation passed by Democratically-controlled Legislature last month would “achieve the public safety goals it aimed to achieve.”

“I’m simply not persuaded a 24-hour waiting period on handguns will have the desired outcome,” Scott said during a press conference Wednesday morning.

More from VPR — Gov. Phil Scott Vetoes Gun Purchase Waiting Period Bill [June 10]

Scott, however, said his decision to veto the waiting period bill shouldn’t cast him as an enemy of gun control. Last year, he said, he signed legislation that instituted universal background checks, banned high-capacity magazines and created a process through which courts can seize firearms from people who pose a public safety risk.

“As I’ve shown, and you’ve reported on,” Scott told reporters, “gun safety is an area I’m willing to advocate for and support, which is not something I believe any other governor in Vermont’s history can say.”

And Scott said he’s open to passing yet more restrictions on gun ownership in the future. Last year Scott convened a “Community Violence Prevention Taskforce." According to Scott, the panel recently delivered a draft report to the governor.

“To be clear I still need to review this report, but I know it does include further gun safety measures, which I will take a serious look at,” Scott said.

Scott declined to say what those “gun safety” proposals consisted of, though he said they do not include a waiting period for gun purchases.

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

Scott also talked Wednesday about his decision to sign the abortion rights billpassed by the Legislature this year.

Scott could have allowed the bill to become law without his signature. But he said efforts to limit access to abortion in other states compelled him to lend his signature to Vermont’s law.

“I thought it was important to make a statement in terms of seeing what’s happening throughout our country, and other states … taking the exact opposite approach,” Scott said.

Scott said the abortion law passed by Vermont lawmakers this year, which allows for no legal restrictions whatsoever on the medical procedure, is in line with his philosophy on reproductive health.

“Government should stay out of those decisions, shouldn’t interject, intercede in those decisions between a person and their health care provider,” Scott said. “I just fundamentally don’t believe government should be involved.”

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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