Vermont gun bill creating 72-hour waiting period passes

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The Vermont Legislature on Friday passed a bill that requires a 72-hour waiting period for the purchase of guns and includes other provisions aimed at reducing suicides and community violence.

The Vermont House concurred with a Senate amendment by a vote of 106 to 34. But Republican Gov. Phil Scott “has significant concerns about the constitutionality of the waiting period provision,” his spokesman Jason Maulucci said Friday.

The legislation also creates a crime of negligent firearms storage and expands the state's extreme risk protection orders so that a state's attorney, the attorney general's office or a family or household member may ask a court to prohibit a person from purchasing, possessing or receiving a dangerous weapon.

Supporters say it's time to take action against gun violence and the rate of suicide in Vermont, which is higher than the national rate.

Opponents say the bill violates the Second Amendment of the Constitution.

According to the bill, more than 700 Vermonters died of gunshots from 2011 to 2020 and 88% of those deaths were suicides. In 2021, the state’s suicide rate was 20.3 per 100,000 people, compared to a national rate of 14 per 100,000, the bill states. Children in a home with a firearm are more than four times more likely to die by suicide than those in a home without one, the legislature states.