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Vermont House Votes to Pass Life-Saving Gun Suicide Prevention Bill; Moms Demand Action, Students Demand Action Applaud 

March 22, 2023

H.230 Will Require Secure Storage of Firearms, Expand Eligible Petitioners for Extreme Risk Protection Orders and Create a 72-Hour Waiting Period for Firearm Transfers 

The Vermont chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots networks, released the following statement applauding  the Vermont House of Representatives for voting to pass H.230, legislation that will prevent unauthorized access to guns by children and address Vermont’s gun suicide epidemic by reducing access to lethal means for people in crisis. 

“Our communities are too familiar with the grief of one of our friends, neighbors, or loved ones’ lives being taken by a crisis that impacts more and more Vermonters every year,” said Patricia Byrd, a volunteer with the Vermont chapter of Moms Demand Action. “We have worked diligently with our lawmakers in the House to pass this life-saving bill so that more Vermonters struggling with thoughts of suicide can live to see better days. We are grateful to Speaker Krowinski, Chairs Houghton and Lalonde, Rep. Black, and all of the other Representatives who voted for this important bill, and urge the Senate to swiftly pass it and send it to the Governor’s desk.” 

H.230 includes multiple gun safety policies that would reduce children’s access to firearms and help prevent gun suicide including: 

  • Requiring gun owners to securely store their firearms if a child or person legally prohibited from possessing guns is likely to gain access to them. Currently, Vermont is the only state in New England without some form of firearm storage law.
  • Expanding eligible petitioners under Vermont’s Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) law to include family and household members. Currently, Vermont’s ERPO law only permits the Attorney General or a States’ Attorney to petition the court for an order, making Vermont one of only five states with an ERPO law that does not permit family and household members to directly petition courts. 
  • Creating a 72-hour waiting period for firearm transfers. Waiting period laws create a buffer between temporary suicidal ideation and firearm access, which can be the difference between life and death. They are associated with reduced suicide rates in states that have them. 

According to the Vermont Department of Health, there were 142 suicide deaths among Vermont residents in 2021 – the largest number and highest rate of suicide deaths ever recorded in Vermont. Suicide is the 8th leading cause of death in the state, and the rate of suicide increased by 16 percent from 2020 to 2021. And in 2020, 91% of firearm deaths were suicides. Access to firearms is tied to elevated suicide risk, as studies show that access to a gun triples a person’s risk of death by suicide.

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