Vermont legislature approves gun control package including waiting periods on gun sales

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

Vermont’s Democrat-controlled legislature hasn’t taken steps to repeal the state’s permitless carry law (yet, anyway), but its taking a bite out of the Second Amendment rights of residents with a gun control package approved on Friday. The bill would not only establish a 72-hour waiting period on all gun sales in the state, but would expand the state’s “red flag” law to allow more individuals and officials to petition the courts for an Extreme Risk Protection Order as well as creating a brand new crime for “negligent firearms storage.”


Despite the passage of the legislation, however, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott has shown signs that he might veto the bill, with his spokesman telling reporters on Friday that the governor has “serious concerns about the constitutionality of the waiting period provision.”

Scott has already wielded his veto pen to strike down a 24-hour waiting period approved by lawmakers in 2019, saying at the time that the state had gone far enough on gun control.

Supporters of the legislation, called S.169, said the 24-hour waiting period approved by lawmakers earlier this year would have reduced suicide rates in Vermont by protecting residents from impulsive acts of self-harm.

Scott said Monday, however, that Vermont has already enacted numerous restrictions on gun ownership during his tenure. He said universal background checks, raising the legal age to purchase a gun to 21 years old, and a ban on the sale of high-capacity magazines — all of which Scott signed into law last year — address the supply-side of the gun-violence problem.

He also noted the passage last year of legislation that allows people to petition the courts to remove firearms from people who pose a danger to themselves or others, and a bill that allows police to remove guns from people cited for domestic violence.

“With these measures in place, we must now prioritize strategies that address the underlying causes of violence and suicide,” Scott said in a written statement announcing his veto. “I do not believe S.169 addresses these areas.”


If that was true back then it’s even more accurate today, and Scott should stick by his principles and veto the bill that’s even worse than the one he rejected four years ago. While Democrats have a veto-proof majority in both chambers, they fell one vote short of reaching that majority when the state Senate approved the gun control package earlier this month.

The bill doesn’t necessarily have an easy path to becoming law, even if it makes it through the Legislature. It’s among a handful of high-profile policies that could find themselves under Gov. Phil Scott’s veto pen.

“I just think it’s the constant erosion of individual rights — you know, I vetoed something that was close to that in the past, so we’ll see,” Scott said.

In an interview onVermont Edition on Monday, the governor specifically objected to the 72-hour waiting period for gun transfers because he believes it would violate the Second Amendment.

The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 19 to 9.

Democrats need 20 votes in the Senate to override any veto by Scott, and while Senate leadership would undoubtably twist arms and sweet-talk any reluctant members of their caucus in order to get to that magic number, the governor is right to be concerned about the impact that the waiting period would have on would-be gun buyers. Why should someone in fear for her life because of an abusive ex or a stalker be forced to sit on her hands and be defenseless for several days when she’s already passed a background check? As Scott said back in 2019, lawmakers should be addressing the underlying causes of violence and suicide, not treading over the fundamental civil rights of residents in the name of public safety.


Scott will face a lot of political heat if he does veto the gun control bill, and I would encourage Vermont gun owners and Second Amendment supporters to contact the governor’s office and urge him to stand on his principles and protect their Second Amendment rights. The fight over waiting periods in the Green Mountain State isn’t over yet, but the governor needs to hear from all those opposed to the Democrats’ latest anti-gun efforts now and in the days ahead.


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