2 more bills to prevent gun violence pass in Vermont
MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Two separate bills design to further help prevent gun violence in Vermont were unanimously approved by the Vermont Legislature on Thursday and Gov. Phil Scott said he will sign them along with another more controversial piece of legislation.
On Thursday, the Senate voted 30-0 for a law designed to make it easier for police to take firearms from people in dangerous situations, such as when a person is deemed suicidal. The House voted 133-0 in favor of a separate bill that makes it easier for police to remove firearms from people suspected in cases of domestic violence.
Neither piece of legislation drew the ire of gun rights supporters in the way as the legislation passed last week that would raise the legal age for gun purchases, expand background checks for private gun sales and ban high-capacity magazines and rapid-fire devices known as bump stocks.
Scott, speaking Thursday at a Statehouse news conference, said he planned to sign the three bills into law in a single ceremony. Timing is uncertain. But he said more needed to be done to prevent gun violence.
“This is an issue that we are all facing and it’s going to take a lot of additional steps,” said Scott.
An assessment he ordered on school safety has been completed and he is expecting recommendations soon.
Vermont traditionally has some of the least restrictive gun laws in the country. But Scott, a gun-owner and long-time opponent of guns restrictions, changed his mind after a Poultney teenager was arrested on charges he planned to kill as many people as possible at a high school he once attended. The teen’s arrest came a day after the Parkland, Florida, shooting that killed 17.
Scott then urged the Legislature to pass gun restrictions as part of a broader package of ideas to reduce school violence.
The two pieces of legislation that were given final approval Thursday even won the support of many gun-rights advocates.
But the bill that would raise the age to buy firearms and impose other restrictions is fiercely opposed by gun rights groups. Many gun supporters have become a presence at the Statehouse.
On Thursday, Bert Saldi, of Barre, a regular gun supporter at the Statehouse, said he didn’t think the bill passed last week would do anything to reduce violence.
“It’s crazy because none of it is going to work,” Saldi said.