Lawmakers returned to Montpelier on June 21 to pass the state budget and wrap up the 2017 legislative session. Vermont gun owners had another successful year in blocking the agenda of local anti-gun surrogates who have been propped up and bankrolled by large out-of-state anti-gun groups like those led by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The anti-gun rhetoric and battles have been growing in Montpelier the last several years. In 2015, anti-gun groups aggressively pushed legislation to implement so-called ”universal” background checks (UBC), but that bill ultimately sputtered and failed to gain traction after pro-gun supporters packed the Statehouse in opposition. After that stinging defeat, the gun control advocates took a break from their misguided agenda in 2016, trying to build up support. In doing so, they also moved away from UBC (for the moment at least), trying to desperately pick up a win in 2017. They shifted gears and set their sights on imposing legislation that would continue to burden law-abiding gun owners under the guise of “domestic violence.” As a result, H.422 was introduced by Representative Maxine Grad. The House narrowly passed the bill, however it failed to move in the Senate.
In addition to this year’s major anti-gun bill (H.422), gun owners were also able to avoid bills which would have restricted lead ammunition, banned ivory, banned magazines and circumvented the Sportsmen’s Bill of Rights. These successes can all be attributed to the tremendous outpouring of support from the Vermont firearms community. The official NRA state association, the Vermont Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, did a fantastic job of maintaining a daily presence at the Statehouse and turning out activists at critical times.
While these results are encouraging, now is not the time to become complacent. Gun owners should fully expect to resume these battles in January 2018. Although many of these bills failed to advanced, they were not defeated with a vote, which means they carry over into the following year of the biennium. Again, thank you to all of our members who contacted their legislators this session. Please continue to follow these alerts for the latest information regarding your Second Amendment rights in the state of Vermont.