By Danielle Silvia and Breeda Bennett-Jones
Copy Editor and Nation & World Editor
Vermont legislators approved new gun restrictions on March 30, including a ban on bump stocks, limits on the size of magazines, expanded background checks for buyers and a raise for the legal age to purchase a gun, according to CNN. Two additional bills regarding weapon confiscation are anticipated to be passed later this week.
The legislation, titled S.55, is part of an effort to support the state of Florida in passing new gun control laws in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida last month, according to The New York Times.
The Vermont Senate passed the law in a 17 to 13 vote. The bill needed 16 votes to pass, according to CNN.
Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican, vowed to sign the law in a surprising move that deviates from usual partisan lines. Vermont’s current gun laws are among the weakest in the nation, due in part to the state’s hunting-friendly culture, according to The New York Times.
One day after the shooting in Florida, a teenager from Poultney, Vermont was accused and arrested for plotting a shooting spree at a nearby high school, which pushed Scott to enact the new gun control measures, according to ABC.
“No state is immune to the risk of extreme violence,” Scott said, according to The New York Times. “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 new legislation raises the minimum age to purchase a gun to 21. The legislation also bans the sale of bump stocks, accessories that allows rapid fire of a semi-automatic weapon. Compounded with the expansion of background checks, the legislation establishes a maximum capacity for the amount of magazines that can be sold and owned within the state, according to The New York Times.
“I think the message that most members of the Legislature — not all — took is that public opinion is changing in Vermont,” said Eric Davis, a political science professor at Middlebury College, according to The New York Times.
Several Vermont politicians and gun-advocacy groups expressed alarm at the passage of the legislature, which they view as invasive and extreme. State Senators like John Rodgers, a Democrat, feels that the new regulations go against cultural traditions of the state, according to Vermont Public Radio.
“I think maybe if we pass this bill, maybe it is over, maybe the Vermont I grew up with is over, and it’s changed,” Rodgers said, according to Vermont Public Radio.
Scott is anticipated to sign two additional bills headed to his desk in the coming weeks, according to Vermont Public Radio. The bills, titled S.221 and H.422, would permit law enforcement to confiscate a weapon from someone deemed as an extreme risk by a judge. The bills passed the Vermont Senate and House unanimously.
“My hope is that we will have those in the very near future,” Scott said at a press conference on April 5, according to Vermont Public Radio. “My plan would be if everything goes right to have all three bills and have one signing of all three.”