Like Vermont has a problem.

Vermonters, lawmakers await decisions on contentious gun reform bills

One year after the tragic school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, Vermont lawmakers looked back on firearm-related bills passed in the 2023 session that they believe will make Vermont a safer state.

One of those will implement a mandatory 72-hour waiting period from the time you purchase a gun to when it enters your possession.

“When somebody has the impulse to buy a gun and use it for a sinister purpose like maybe a school shooting or something like that, or if they intend on harming themselves, those 72 hours can be so vital,” Rep. Conor Caser, Executive Director of GunSense Vermont, said.

Some believe the bill violates the Second Amendment and is unconstitutional. Gov. Phil Scott has not said he will veto the bill but has expressed strong concerns in recent weeks.

“I don’t doubt that if this goes into law that there will be a constitutional challenge,” said Scott.

However, the governor is expected to sign off on a bill that strengthens penalties on straw purchases and the defacing of serial numbers on firearms, which lawmakers believe will reduce crime in and out of state.

“They go in and buy them [guns] and then trade them for drugs, and the folks who can’t possess obviously have the firearm. And we’ve seen them used in crimes in other states,” Sen. Richard Sears said.

It remains clear that lawmakers will not agree on the policies of all the bills, but both sides of the aisle say the fact that three firearm reform bills made it to the governor’s desk this session is something they have never seen before.

“Passing three is a first, I must say, but the dynamics have changed also in the last 15-20 years. The makeup of the body, the numbers in the body, you’ll see on most of those bills they are predominately supported by Democrats,” Rep. Patrick Brennan, a Republican, said.

Sears believes public tragedies such as what happened in Uvalde also played a role.

“I think Vermonters’ views of firearms have changed dramatically due to the mass shootings we’ve seen in other states such as Uvalde a year ago,” Sears said.

Most bills passed by the Senate and House within the last two weeks of the session, including the two firearm bills, have still not officially made it to the governor’s desk as the legislative council finishes the process of looking them over.

Once they do, Scott will have five days to make a decision on whether to sign them or not.