The Vermont chapter of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots networks, released the following statement after Vermont Governor Phil Scott signed into law S. 4, a comprehensive bill to address the “Charleston Loophole,” strengthen protections for victims of domestic violence, reaffirm avenues for medical professionals to protect their patients in crisis and their communities, and more. Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action volunteers in Vermont previously advocated for the passage of a similar bill, S.30, which was vetoed by the Governor. Lawmakers mobilized quickly after the Governor’s veto of S.30 to craft and pass S.4, following a compromise proposed by the Governor. Volunteers were responsible for dozens of emails and phone calls to the governor and lawmakers advocating for this critical gun safety package throughout the legislative process.
“The signing of this bill into law provides critical tools to help health care professionals, law enforcement, and judges reduce the threat of gun violence and make our state a safer place,” said Seton McIlroy, a volunteer with the Vermont chapter of Moms Demand Action. “We are thankful to Pro Tem Balint, Speaker Krowinski, Senator Baruth, Representative Notte, Chairs Grad and Sears, and all the rest of the legislators who consistently and vehemently championed this bill. While we’re disappointed at Governor Scott’s refusal to fully close the Charleston Loophole, over the objections of stakeholders from across the state, we are heartened that he has signed this compromise into law.”
“Our students, families, and communities deserve preventative policies that put their safety first and combat the root causes of gun violence in Vermont,” said Maddie Ahmadi, a volunteer with Students Demand Action in Vermont and member of the Students Demand Action National Advisory Board. “We are grateful to the legislature for acting swiftly to pass this comprehensive bill, and despite our disappointment over the Governor’s previous veto, we are glad to see him work with leaders in the legislature to find a reasonable compromise on this legislation.”
The legislation, now signed, will:
- Help address the “Charleston Loophole” by ensuring that law enforcement has more time to complete a background check of prospective gun purchasers;
- Affirm the ability of Vermont’s judges to disarm domestic abusers who are subject to an emergency Relief From Abuse order by ordering them to relinquish their firearms and prohibit firearm possession while the order is in effect;
- Prohibit the possession of guns in hospital buildings across the state;
- Affirm the ability of health care providers to notify law enforcement when they believe an armed person poses an extreme risk to themselves or others; and,
- Require the state to annually report data on the use of extreme risk protection orders (ERPO) and their impact on suicide rates.
In an average year in Vermont, 75 people die by guns and 84 people are wounded. Gun violence costs Vermont $516.4 million each year, of which $12.2 million is paid by taxpayers. Vermont ranks 22nd in the country in gun law strength. More information on gun violence in Vermont is available here.