One of the safest states in the entire country has decided that firearm restrictions are so critically urgent that the Legislature should spend the opening weeks passing new gun laws. The story is even more incredible. Instead of doing this inside the building in open, plain view of the public and media, a substantial portion of lawmakers are at home sipping coffee doing this behind a computer screen, and it has been this way for nearly two years.
This week, the Vermont House passed S.30 on a second reading vote of 97 to 49 along partisan lines with Republicans opposing. S. 30 by Sen. Phil Baruth passed the Senate last year and carried over into the 2022 session. This bill was drastically amended last year in the Senate, and it has once again been significantly changed in the House.
Last year, this bill started as a ban on carrying firearms in all public buildings, daycare facilities and hospitals. The Senate passed the bill with the public buildings and daycare facilities removed so that only hospitals remained. We continued to oppose this “location” restriction because there has been zero evidence presented that this is a problem in Vermont and it is purely a possessory offense with no criminal intent.
This year, the House has amended the bill by adding other provisions. They extended NICS-delayed transfers from 3 days to 30 days. Under current federal law, a check that comes back as delayed is allowed (but not required) to be completed after three business days have passed. Fortunately, most of the delays are cleared within three days. This situation can be more prevalent for people who have common names. However, under S.30, these individuals would be caught in an infinite loop. NICS checks are only good for 30 days, and if an FFL is forced to sit on the transfer for a month, a new check has to be initiated and the process repeats itself.
Among other amendments, the House lowered the penalties from the Senate-passed version to a $250 fine, and all jail time was removed.
Make no mistake, this is still a bad bill and should be defeated. This bill has to go back to the Senate because it was amended. The differences between the House and Senate versions have to be reconciled, and we will continue to actively oppose the bill. It is extremely disconcerting that House and Senate leadership have made this a priority early in the session while the Statehouse remains closed to the public and this legislative work is being done online.
NRA-ILA opposes this infringement on the Second Amendment, and we will work diligently to defeat this harmful legislation. Please continue to follow these NRA-ILA alerts for the latest updates.