Lost amidst the sound and fury over gun violence protection is the fact that state business must keep rolling along.
This week, the House also passed a $5.8 billion budget with no new fees or taxes, the Capital
Bill, and an education funding bill, among many others. The Capital Bill includes $4 million for
school security upgrades (and draws down another $1 million in federal money), $225,000 for
E-911 compliance for schools, and $3.1 million for improving and expanding mental health
However, it is the gun bills that have gotten almost all the attention. As people discuss this
legislation, I offer the following brief summary of those bills, which is necessarily abridged. I
have included links to the actual language of the bills at the end. Feel free to contact me for
H.422 was passed by the House in 2017 and approved by the Senate this week (29-0). The bill
allows temporary removal of firearms at the scene of domestic violence. The accused must be
arraigned on the next business day, at which point a judge will determine disposition of the
S.221 was passed by both chambers, 136-0 and 30-0. This bill creates a mechanism for police
to prevent possession of firearms by those determined to be a threat to themselves or others.
By a judge’s order, the firearms can be held for up to six months.
S.55, which was passed by both chambers, 89-54 and 17-13, has five parts to it. In summary:
The first part specifies how the state shall dispose of unlawful or abandoned firearms. Most shall
be sold to a federally licensed dealer. Others will be transferred to Fish and Wildlife, or
The second part extends background checks to all individual firearm transfers – with exemptions
for immediate family, law enforcement, and military, or “to prevent immediate harm.” The
federally licensed dealer conducting the background check may charge a “reasonable fee” and
is exempt from liability if the transfer is conducted legally.
Related to this, the bill requires a study to determine the feasibility of conducting background
checks for private sales through law enforcement agencies instead of licensed dealers.
The third part prohibits the sale of firearms to people under the age of 21, with exemptions.
Exemptions include law enforcement officers, military personnel, and anyone who has
completed a Vermont hunter safety course or equivalent.
Under the fourth part a person may not buy, sell, or acquire a high capacity magazine, (defined
as more than 10 rounds for a long gun or 15 rounds for a handgun). The primary exemption in
this bill is that every high capacity magazine legally owned at the time that the governor signs
the bill is grandfathered. There is no seizure or confiscation.
Many other exemptions were also granted, including for law enforcement and military personnel
as well as magazines for lever action, bolt action, antique, curio, or relic firearms. There is also
an exemption for in-state importers or manufacturers, though their products cannot be sold in
The final part of the bill prohibits possession of a “bump-fire stock”, otherwise known as bump
stocks. This section has an effective date of October 1, 2018 to allow people to “anonymously
relinquish” or otherwise dispose of an existing bump stock.
H.422 – (see page 643)
And amended here on page 897: