NRA members and all Second Amendment supporters in Vermont can breathe a sigh of relief now that the 2014 legislative session has adjourned for the year. During this session, gun owners faced a substantial list of anti-gun measures in Montpelier, and fortunately none of those bills passed thanks to the efforts of Vermont NRA members who answered the call and contacted their state Senators and Representatives.
Several anti-gun bills were introduced in 2013 and were carried over into the 2014 session. State Representative Linda Waite-Simpson (D- Chittenden-8-2) introduced House Bill 124, the “mandatory firearm storage bill,” that would force gun owners to lock up their firearms and render them useless for self-defense. In addition, House Bill 124 would ban the manufacture, transfer and possession of commonly owned standard capacity magazines, require background checks for all purchases at gun shows and mandate training for concealed carry. Such requirements would have burdened gun owners with multiple fees just for exercising their Second Amendment rights while having absolutely no effect on crime and criminals.
Another anti-gun bill, Senate Bill 32, sponsored by state Senate Majority Leader Philip Baruth (D-Chittenden), would have banned semi-automatic “assault weapons,” including many popular and commonly owned firearms. It would have outlawed the manufacture, possession, sale and transfer of thousands of popular semi-automatic firearms and would also ban ammunition magazines which hold more than ten rounds. Baruth pulled his bill within weeks after upset constituents contacted their state lawmakers to voice opposition.
This March, Burlington adopted three charter changes that would infringe on the constitutional rights of law-abiding Vermont residents and violate the Vermont Sportsmen’s Bill of Rights. The anti-gun push in Burlington is especially dangerous because it also attacks the state’s firearms preemption law. While state lawmakers declined to consider these charter changes this year, those proposals could be heard during the 2015 session.
House Bill 335, sponsored by state Representative George Till (D-Chittenden-3), was also introduced in 2013. House Bill 335 would impose a 48-hour waiting period on the purchase of a firearm. After completing a NICS check, the firearm would be held at the dealer’s shop for two days. This waiting period would apply to all firearm purchases, including pistols, rifles and shotguns. This bill failed to advance.
The only bill to pass this year relating to firearms was House Bill 735, legislation that sets the fees for many government agencies and departments. This bill also capped the fees that federally licensed firearms dealers and law enforcement agencies can charge for holding firearms for individuals under a protection order. HB 735 also created a provision where a judge has discretion to allow a third party to store the guns. The Vermont Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, the NRA state association in Vermont, worked tirelessly with the NRA, state lawmakers and Governor Peter Shumlin (D) during the five-month session to put these protections in place for law-abiding gun owners. The safeguards in this statute will ensure citizens are fairly treated until adjudicated otherwise.
Despite concluding a successful legislative session this year, gun owners in Vermont should anticipate a renewed effort by anti-gun activists to pursue these issues and potentially many others in 2015. Anti-gun lawmakers have proven they are persistent in pushing their agenda in Montpelier.