Vermont Lawmakers Back Bills Allowing Gun Removal in Certain Situations | Off Message

Vermont Lawmakers Back Bills Allowing Gun Removal in Certain Situations

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Gun control opponents look on as the House debates gun legislation Tuesday. - FILE: ALICIA FREESE
  • File: Alicia Freese
  • Gun control opponents look on as the House debates gun legislation Tuesday.
Vermont lawmakers in both chambers advanced two bills Thursday that would facilitate the removal of guns in certain high-risk situations.

The Senate voted unanimously in favor of H.422, which passed the House last year and gives police officers the option of temporarily seizing guns from someone cited for domestic violence. And the House approved S.221, which the Senate unanimously passed in February to allow police to get a court order to remove guns from people who are deemed by a judge to be an “extreme risk” to themselves or others. Lawmakers are expected to give final approval to the bills Friday.

In what will likely be a close vote, the Senate on Friday is also expected to approve S.55, which would mandate universal background checks for gun purchases, raise the purchasing age to 21 and ban bump stocks and high-capacity magazines. The House passed the bill Tuesday, and Senate Majority Leader Becca Balint (D-Windham) told Seven Days on Thursday afternoon that she anticipates it will pass the Senate, unchanged, on a vote of 16-14 or 17-13.



Gov. Phil Scott has expressed support for all three bills.

It took Democratic leaders in the House and Senate some time to reach agreement about the various gun measures poised for passage. Senators had concerns that H.422 would violate the Fourth Amendment while House members worried that the gun removal process outlined in S.221 would be too onerous. After making slight changes to each bill, the House and Senate appear to have reached a compromise.