VT Governor Says No To Waiting Periods, Yes To Red Flag Laws

Vermont’s governor Phil Scott says he will veto any legislation that gets to his desk requiring a waiting period to purchase a firearm, but he’s unfortunately embracing one gun control proposal even as he rejects another.

WCAX-TV reports that Scott is rejecting data from Harvard researchers that the academics claim shows waiting periods lead to a reduction in both homicides and suicides.

In the last session, Scott vetoed a bill which creates a 24-hour waiting period to receive a handgun after purchase. He said there wasn’t enough research on the topic and that he had done enough to tackle guns in his sweeping gun bills back in 2018.

Additionally, in his proposed budget, Scott also says he’s invested more than $2 million in early intervention and suicide prevention resources.

The governor says the state should focus on red flag laws, which allow law enforcement to take away firearms from someone who could be a harm to themselves or others.

“I would also ask the experts from Harvard if they have compared states that have red flag laws and if they’ve done any research on how effective that has been,” said Scott, R-Vermont.

I’ve done some research, and I’ve got some bad news for the governor. In the two states that have had red flag laws on the books for the longest time, suicides have increased substantially, though there was a slight reduction in firearm-related suicides.

Scott is a Republican governor in a state that regularly elects a socialist to the U.S. Senate, so he may be simply looking at this from a political angle and trying to find the sweet spot between the longstanding support for the Second Amendment in the state and the desire to “do something” on the part of the state’s left-leaning voters. Gun owners have been very vocal in their opposition to any new gun laws. In fact, WCAX-TV reported earlier this week that a number of towns in the state are considering resolutions declaring themselves Second Amendment Sanctuaries.

“The township or the town of Clarendon hereby declares itself to be a Second Amendment and Article 16 constitutional gun owner township,” said Clarendon Selectboard Chair Mike Klopchin, reading a new resolution signed by the board. It’s a measure this small, mostly conservative community agrees on. “It’s more or less just to let our state and federal representatives know where our community stands on this particular issue.”

Vermont has some of the lowest violent crime rates in the country, but a higher-than-average suicide rate. What the state should be focusing on is increasing the help available for people in crisis, not going after legal gun owners. Instead, it looks like Vermont’s largest in-patient mental health center could soon be closing its doors.

Vermont’s largest in-patient mental health facility, the Brattleboro Retreat, has voted to begin the process of either closing or selling the facility due to financial troubles.

Vermont Human Services Secretary Mike Smith says the state has invested millions of dollars into the privately run facility but says management “has failed to deliver fiscal stability to the institution.”

AHS officials say from 2016 to 2018 there were 7,680 patient discharges. On average, the facility serves 2,500 patients per year, staying an average of eight days.

Secretary Smith says last week Retreat officials asked for an additional $2 million in funding. They said the number of patients they had budgeted for was much lower than expected. Smith denied the request.

If the privately-run facility closes down, what’s the plan to deal with the 2,500 people it typically handles every year? File red flag petitions against them all and hope for the best?

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle need to get serious and quit scapegoating the state’s legal gun owners in an attempt to avoid the mental health crisis in the state. Vermont’s Second Amendment supporters and those genuinely in crisis both deserve better.