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Vermont Senate Votes to Pass Gun Suicide Prevention Bill; Moms Demand Action, Students Demand Action Applaud

April 28, 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 

MONTPELIER, Vt. The Vermont chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots network, released the following statement applauding the Vermont Senate for voting to pass H.230, legislation previously passed by the House 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. The bill will return to the House to resolve changes made by the Senate, and then will be sent to Governor Phil Scott’s desk.

“Too many Vermonters live with the grief of losing a loved one to gun suicide — we applaud the Senate for voting to pass this life-saving gun safety bill,” said Patricia Byrd, a volunteer with the Vermont chapter of Moms Demand Action. “This bill takes a common-sense, proactive approach to preventing gun violence. We are grateful to Senate Pro Tem Baruth, Chairman Sears, and all of the other Senators who voted for this critical bill.” 

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 suicidal ideation and firearm access, which can be the difference between life and death. Policies that create this buffer are associated with reduced rates of firearm suicide.

On Wednesday, Everytown For Gun Safety released a new report on preventing unintentional shootings by children. According to the report, Vermont’s rate of unintentional shootings by children for 2015-2022 was above the national average and rates of unintentional shootings by children were 39 percent lower in states with secure storage laws that apply when a child is likely to access a gun, compared to states with no secure storage laws. 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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