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 Legislature for passing three life-saving gun safety bills introduced this legislative session, S.4, an omnibus public safety package that addresses gun homicides; H.230, which would help address Vermont’s firearm suicide epidemic, and S.3, which prohibits paramilitary training.
“This session the Vermont Legislature has prioritized the safety of our communities by passing three life-saving bills that will take the holistic approach needed to address gun violence in all its forms,” said Patricia Byrd, a volunteer with the Vermont chapter of Moms Demand Action. “We applaud Senate Pro Tem Baruth, Speaker Krowinski, Chair Sears, Rep. Black, and all of the legislators who supported these important bills for their proactive approach toward protecting our communities and we urge Governor Scott to swiftly sign the remaining two gun homicide and suicide prevention bills into law.”
The following gun safety bills passed the Vermont Legislature during the 2023 legislative session:
- H.230 — Which would help address Vermont’s firearm suicide epidemic by:
- establishing a secure firearm storage law to help prevent unauthorized access to guns by children and other people prohibited from possessing firearms
- expanding eligible petitioners under Vermont’s Extreme Risk Protection Order Law to include family & household members
- establish a 72-hour waiting period for firearm transfers
- S.4 — Omnibus public safety legislation which would:
- establish a grant fund that localities and nonprofits could apply to that would support community violence intervention and other public safety programming
- prohibit fugitives from justice and people subject to final domestic abuse restraining orders or final stalking-related restraining orders as well as people charged with certain offenses from purchasing or possessing firearms
- facilitate reporting juvenile records to NICS to help comply with the enhanced federal background check required under the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA)
- establish several new criminal offenses related to firearms, including tampering with a firearm’s serial number, engaging in a straw purchase, or providing a firearm to a prohibited person
- S.3 — Which prohibits people from providing training or assembling with a group for paramilitary training activities if the person reasonably should know the training would be used to further unlawful civil disorder. The bill would empower the Attorney General or State’s Attorney to seek a civil restraining order to temporarily or permanently stop people from either of these activities.
Last month, Everytown For Gun Safety Support Fund 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.