Sen. John Rodgers (D-Essex/Orleans) tested his colleagues' patience Tuesday on the Senate floor by reviving a contentious debate about guns.
Rodgers, who vigorously opposed several gun measures that Vermont Gov. Phil Scott signed into law last month, made a last-ditch attempt to loosen firearm restrictions when the Senate took up a miscellaneous fish and wildlife bill.
The Glover Democrat, who is considering a run for governor, first tried to convince his colleagues to pass an amendment that would allow hunters to use gun suppressors. He made the case that such devices would reduce hearing loss among hunters — and hunting dogs. “I personally have some hearing loss due to firearms,” Rodgers said.
When Sen. Phil Baruth (D/P-Chittenden), a staunch gun control proponent, asked Rodgers to cite research that links hunting to hearing loss in humans and dogs, Rodgers quipped, “Can you repeat that?”
Rodgers later conceded that his comments about canine hearing loss were based solely on anecdotal evidence.
The discussion became more tense after Rodgers suggested that Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee chair Chris Bray (D-Addison) had changed his position on gun suppressors after “intensive lobbying” last weekend — an accusation Bray flatly denied.
As the debate dragged on, Senate President Pro Tempore Tim Ashe (D/P-Chittenden) gently suggested that the senators wrap it up, noting that they had a lengthy list of important bills to vote on that afternoon.
Rodgers' amendment failed, but he was ready with another: this one would have permanently exempted shooting competitions from the magazine capacity limits that lawmakers passed last month. The current exemption is set to expire next summer.
At one point, Baruth stood and, as required under Senate rules, asked permission to interrogate Rodgers about his amendment. In an unusual move, Rodgers stayed seated, refusing to submit to Baruth’s questioning.
Baruth ultimately put a halt to the debate by invoking “Rule 90,” which prevents the Senate from voting on the same question twice in one session.
But moments later, Rodgers was back with a third amendment that would lift a newly enacted ban on high-capacity magazines. The Senate decided to put off voting on the amendment and the underlying bill until later this week.
Undeterred, Rodgers told a reporter afterwards, “If nothing else, I can cause trouble.”