Vermont legislators push for more gun restrictions

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont lawmakers are proposing a number of gun-related restrictions that they say are aimed at keeping Vermonters and their children safe, including a waiting period, after Republican Gov. Phil Scott vetoed a similar measure last session.

Some senators and advocates gathered at a Statehouse press conference on Thursday to call for more gun safety measures.

“We are all here today to create a safer Vermont, one where hunting and sport shooting are valued but not over public safety for the state at large,” said Sen. Philip Baruth, a Democrat and Progressive from Chittenden County. “Too many Vermonters are killed with guns in suicides and homicide; too many domestic partners are controlled or killed with firearms.”

Baruth has proposed a bill that would prohibit the possession of semiautomatic assault weapons in a variety of places, such as publicly owned buildings or offices, houses of worship, public parks, stadiums and theaters. Another bill, introduced by Sens. Ruth Hardy and Alison Clarkson, both Democrats, would require a 72-hour waiting period for the purchase of a firearm.

In the House, legislation has been introduced requiring that people who have restraining orders against them relinquish all firearms until the orders expire.

Gov. Scott changed his position two years ago when he signed into law the first significant gun ownership restrictions in the state’s history that raised the age to buy firearms, banned high-capacity magazines and made it easier to take guns from people who pose a threat. But last year he vetoed a bill that would have established a 24-hour waiting period to buy handguns.

Now lawmakers are hoping that Scott will reexamine the research and change his mind on waiting periods. An email seeking comment was sent to his press secretary.

Ed Cutler, president of Gun Owners of Vermont, opposes the waiting period legislation and the way it’s written because he said it could hamper self defense.

“If a person has to wait to defend himself, it could be an animal, it could be a victim of domestic abuse, anything along those lines, they should be able to defend themselves,” he said.

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