New Vermont gun bill tightens restrictions but avoids semi-automatic assault weapons ban

Proposal would lift prohibition on silencers while limiting magazine capacity, requiring background checks

MONTPELIER — A new gun bill was introduced Tuesday in the House that would ban high-capacity magazines, require background checks for all gun purchases and require a firearms safety course for those who carry concealed weapons, but would not seek a ban on semi-automatic assault weapons, as a short-lived Senate bill had sought to do.

This bill, H.124, has 12 co-sponsors in the House: 11 Democrats and one independent.

The lead sponsor is Rep. Linda Waite-Simpson, D-Essex Junction, who has tried unsuccessfully to pass some gun restrictions in the past in response to the death of a teenage constituent who used a gun from a friend’s house. This time, Waite-Simpson said, she is hoping to garner a broader coalition of support.

The latest effort follows a December massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.

In a concession to gun advocates, the bill would repeal a state law prohibiting silencers on guns.

The bill would also require the state to report those with mental health conditions to a federal database that could be used to halt gun sales. The bill also would make it against state law for felons to possess guns, as it is against federal law.

Whether the bill will gain traction in the Legislature remains to be seen, as Vermont lawmakers traditionally have been reluctant to pass any gun-control measures, and those who try face considerable protest from gun owners.

Sen. Philip Baruth, D-Chittenden, last week withdrew a bill he had proposed that would have banned semi-automatic assault weapons, among other measures. He said the bill had quickly become a distraction.

Click here to read the new House bill.

Written by Terri Hallenbeck
Free Press Staff Writer