S.4 Will Help Keep Firearms Out of the Hands of Dangerous People, Including Stalkers and Domestic Abusers, Establish a Grant Fund for Community Violence Intervention Programs, Prohibit Straw Purchasing and Defacement of Firearm Serial Numbers, and Facilitate Compliance with New Enhanced Federal Background Check Requirements or People Under the Age of 21
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 State Senate for voting to pass S.4, an important gun safety bill that will prohibit people from getting access to firearms who should not have them; create state-level prohibitions on straw purchasing and tampering with serial numbers on firearms; and facilitate compliance with new enhanced background check requirements under the Federal Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA) for people under the age of 21.
“With the rise of gun violence in our cities — we are proud that the Senate is taking an important step forward to keep our communities safe,” said Patricia Byrd, a volunteer with the Vermont chapter of Moms Demand Action. “We applaud Chair Sears, Senate President Pro Tem Baruth, and all other Senators who worked so hard to pass this comprehensive bill to keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them and provide funding to community organizations working to prevent violence. We urge the House to do the same so we can prevent senseless acts of gun violence from tearing our communities apart.”
S.4 includes multiple gun safety policies that would keep guns out of the hands of people with a history of dangerous behavior and provide much-needed funding to local community organizations working to prevent gun violence, including:
- Prohibiting people who should not have access to firearms from possessing them — including people subject to a final domestic violence order of protection or a final stalking-related order of protection, people charged with carrying a dangerous weapon while committing a felony, drug trafficking, or human trafficking. This will enable Vermont’s state and local law enforcement to enforce these prohibitions, making it easier to keep guns out of the hands of people with a history of violent or dangerous behavior. States that prohibit abusers subject to domestic violence restraining orders (DVROs) from possessing guns have seen a 13 percent reduction in intimate partner firearm homicide rates.
- Requiring funds in the Fiscal Year 2024 state budget to be appropriated to create a Community Safety Grant Program through the Vermont Department of Health that allows localities to apply for funding to support programs to assist with community outreach and intervention, violence prevention, and reducing the demand for illegal drugs. Community Violence Intervention Programs play a key role in making cities safer. By utilizing a public health model, community-led programs have been shown to reduce gun violence in some of the most heavily impacted neighborhoods. While these programs are often uniquely situated to address violence in their communities, they need support from policymakers in order to sustain and expand their life-saving work.
- Enhancing background checks for people under 21 allowing juvenile records to be available for National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) background check purposes will help facilitate compliance with the enhanced background check for people under 21 now required by the federal Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA). Research shows that eighteen to 20-year-olds commit gun homicides at triple the rate of adults 21 years and older.
- Establish new criminal firearm offenses that would prohibit removing, altering, or defacing a firearm’s serial number or making a “straw purchase” (buying a gun for someone else who the buyer knows is prohibited from possessing the gun or intends to carry the gun while committing a felony).
More information on gun violence in Vermont can be found here. If you have any questions, or would like to request an interview with a volunteer from Vermont from Moms Demand Action or Students Demand Action, please don’t hesitate to reach out.