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 in response to Vermont Governor Phil Scott allowing H.230 to become law without signature. This legislation would prevent unauthorized access to guns by children and address Vermont’s gun suicide epidemic by reducing access to lethal means by people in crisis. The bill passage comes shortly after Governor Scott signed two other gun safety bills into law, S.4, which created a community safety grant program and strengthened other laws to keep guns out of the wrong hands, and S.3, which prohibited paramilitary training activities aimed at furthering civil disorder.
“We are thrilled to see this life-saving bill become law — these are common-sense provisions to help keep guns out of the hands of children and people in crisis,” said Eileen Barendse, a volunteer with the Vermont chapter of Moms Demand Action. “We are grateful for the tireless efforts of Rep. Alyssa Black, Speaker Jill Krowinski, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Baruth, Judiciary Chairs Martin Lalonde and Dick Sears, and so many others to pass this bill, and for the Legislature and Governor Phill Scott’s support of many other gun safety policies passed into law this session that take proactive measures to keep our communities safe.”
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.
In April, Everytown For Gun Safety Support Fund released a 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 the risk of death by suicide.