Vermont is known for being a gun-friendly state, so gun-friendly, in fact, that socialist Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) squirms whenever the issue of gun control comes up.  Last year, Guns & Ammo ranked Vermont #20 on its annual Best States for Gun Owners list.

That may all change, however.  The Vermont legislature has passed a “raft” of gun control measures, and the bill is on its way to Governor Phil Scott (R) who has indicated that he will sign the bill into law.  Two additional gun control bills are currently making their way through the legislature.

The New York Times reports:

Lawmakers in Vermont, a place long steeped in hunting culture, on Friday approved a sweeping package of new gun restrictions, making the state all but certain to join Florida in passing a raft of new gun control measures after a teenage gunman killed 17 people last month at a high school in Parkland, Fla.

Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican, has vowed to sign the measure. It represents a remarkable departure from the state’s existing gun laws, which are some of the weakest in the country — and an about-face for Mr. Scott, who decided to consider new gun control measures only after a teenager was accused of plotting a school shooting in Vermont in the days after the violence in Parkland.

. . . .  The bill, which passed the Senate, 17 to 13, on Friday after clearing the House earlier in the week, would raise the minimum age to purchase a gun to 21 and ban bump stocks, which are devices that allow semiautomatic rifles to fire more rapidly. It also contains restrictions that go beyond those in the measure signed in Florida, like an expansion of background checks and a limit on the capacity of magazines that can be sold or possessed in the state.

Scott states that the Parkland shooting prompted him to “change completely” his stance on gun control.

The Hill reports:

The bill will now head to Gov. Phil Scott (R), a lifelong gun owner who also holds a 93 percent approval rating from the National Rifle Association (NRA), but is expected to sign the bill.

Scott said his stances on gun control “changed completely” after the February mass shooting at a Parkland, Fla., high school in which 17 people died. Vermont also averted a school shooting in February after a tip to law enforcement, according to the Burlington Free Press.

There are two further gun control bills making their way through the Vermont legislature, and Scott is eager to sign those, as well.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Gov. Scott said in a statement after Friday’s vote that he supports the new bill, along with two other gun-control measures that are advancing in the legislature, because he believes they uphold constitutional rights “while taking reasonable steps to reduce the risk of violence.” A spokeswoman confirmed he plans to sign all three bills pending a technical review.

“As Governor, I have a moral and legal obligation and responsibility to provide for the safety of our citizens,” the governor said in a statement. “If we are at a point when our kids are afraid to go to school and parents are afraid to put their kids on a bus, who are we?”

The WSJ has further details on the three gun controls bills.

The bill that passed Friday, which the House had previously cleared, includes exceptions on the age requirement for people who have passed hunter-safety courses. Regarding ammunition, the bill restricts sales of magazines exceeding 10 rounds for long guns and 15 rounds for handguns. The bill also expands background checks and bans bump stocks, devices that enable semiautomatic rifles to operate like fully automatic weapons.

. . . . The other gun-control measures working their way through the legislature include a bill to create “extreme risk protection orders” that can prohibit people from possessing a gun for up to a year if a court finds they pose a significant danger. So-called “red flag” bills have gained momentum around the U.S. following the Parkland, Fla., school shooting because supporters believe they provide a way to disarm people who are deemed dangerous, but haven’t committed a crime.

The third bill involves removing guns from people arrested or cited for domestic assault.

Ethan Sonneborn, the 13-year-old Democrat gubernatorial candidate in Vermont, is touting his early inclusion of stricter gun control in his campaign.

The Hill reports:

A 13-year-old running for governor in Vermont is highlighting gun control in his platform.

Ethan Sonneborn, who declared his candidacy last year, is calling for stricter gun control in his home state, and told CNN in an interview published Friday that the refreshed national conversation on guns in the aftermath of the Florida school shooting presents a “good opportunity to make change.”

“There’s always been a sense of, ‘We don’t talk about that in politics.’ That’s what I wanted to change,” Ethan told CNN. “I wish it didn’t take a tragedy for us to become involved in a national dialogue about how we move forward, but we can’t go back in time and make it that Parkland didn’t happen. And while we’re in this moment, I think it’s a good opportunity to make change.”

Ethan emphasized that he is respectful of the state’s prominent hunting culture.

“It’s a culture that I respect,” he said. “But if it’s making the decision between letting my friends have a good time at a firing range and them possibly being involved in a school shooting, I’m choosing legislation to protect them from that school shooting.”

Conor Casey, executive director of the state’s Democratic Party, praised Ethan for taking on the issue of gun control early in his campaign.

“Ethan really did embrace the gun issue early on,” Casey told CNN. “He’s representing younger people and he’s been a good voice for them.”


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