Legislators in both chambers pushed a couple of anti-gun bills across the half-way marker in order to meet their self-imposed “crossover” deadline Friday. Typically, legislation needs to clear this hurdle if it is going to be viable during this year’s legislative session. Now, both bills advance as politicians in Montpelier continue to push gun control online, in the middle of a pandemic. The Statehouse remains closed.
The Senate Judiciary Committee amended and passed S.30 on a 3-1 vote Friday morning, despite a complete lack of evidence that this is a problem in Vermont. After weeks of testimony, there was no substantial evidence offered that guns are being brought into Vermont hospitals and being used in criminal acts. In fact, it would be accurate to say that type of evidence was completely non-existent. On the contrary, several witnesses testified that current trespass law was working. The absence of problems clearly supports that contention. The silver lining is that day care facilities and public buildings were removed from the bill by the committee.
Similarly, the House Judiciary Committee passed H.133 earlier in the week. This bill will call for surrender of firearms when temporary restraining orders are issued. NRA voiced objections to this bill as these hearings can be done ex parte, without the defendant present, and the burden of proof is low (preponderance of the evidence). There was testimony that judges are already doing this, and believe they have the authority to do it. So why the legislation? Needing to codify something typically means they don’t have the authority to do it under current law. Ultimately, this bill was passed along straight party lines and advanced to the floor, where it had passed, on a preliminary floor vote, at the time of this writing.
It is important to remember that these bills still have not been given final approval, and there will be more votes in coming weeks. Please continue to follow these alerts, and please contact your Senator and ask that they oppose both S.30 and H.133.