Vermont's New Gun Restrictions Are a Big Deal. Here's Why
'I think it sends a signal that the cultural shift ... is huge in Vermont'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 11, 2018 4:14 PM CDT
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FILE - In this Feb. 20, 2018 file photo, gun control advocates demonstrate at the Vermont Statehouse in Montpelier, Vt. Gov. Phil Scott is set to sign the first significant gun restrictions in the state's history during a Statehouse ceremony on Wednesday, April 11.   (AP Photo/Wilson Ring, File)
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(Newser) – Vermont on Wednesday raised the age to buy firearms, banned high-capacity magazines, and made it easier to take guns from people who pose a threat—the first significant gun ownership restrictions in state history, signed into law by the Republican governor. It's a remarkable turnaround for the largely rural state that traditionally has refused to impose restrictions on gun ownership, the AP reports. Standing on the Statehouse steps, Gov. Phil Scott signed the three bills into law before a crowd of gun rights activists and supporters of gun control. "This is not the time to do what's easy, it's time to do what's right," the governor said. Scott, a gun owner, had urged the Legislature to pass gun restrictions in the aftermath of what police called a narrowly averted school shooting in Fair Haven by a teenager. He said the incident proved to him that Vermont isn't immune from the school violence that has plagued other parts of the country.

Vermont's new gun laws are mild by some standards. But they are part of a trend of states passing gun restrictions, prompted in part by the mass shooting in Parkland, Fla., said Robert Spitzer, a political science professor at the State University of New York at Cortland who has written books on gun policy. "There has been movement in a number of states," Spitzer said. But Vermont is significant "because Vermont is traditionally such a strong gun-rights state and has not moved in this direction in ages, if ever," he said. While gun control advocates have praised Vermont's new laws, the state's traditionally powerful gun rights advocates and members of the outdoor community feel betrayed by Scott, whom many supported during his 2016 election campaign. During debate on the legislation, many firearms owners milled around the Statehouse halls wearing hunter orange vests or hats.


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