Walters: Scott Defends His Veto of Gun-Purchase Waiting Period Bill | Off Message

Walters: Scott Defends His Veto of Gun-Purchase Waiting Period Bill


Gov. Phil Scott - FILE: PAUL HEINTZ
  • File: Paul Heintz
  • Gov. Phil Scott
Gov. Phil Scott devoted a Wednesday morning press conference to explaining his decisions on two major pieces of legislation: the veto of S.169, which would have required a 24-hour waiting period for handgun purchases, and the signing of H.57, which establishes abortion rights in state law. Both actions were announced in a written statement Monday evening.

Scott said he moved the presser from Thursday to Wednesday because he'd gotten so many requests for further comment.

On the waiting period bill, Scott offered a number of explanations, not all of them consistent. He began by recounting the gun measures he signed into law last year and his administration's efforts to improve the state mental health system.

Scott also revealed that his Community Violence Prevention Task Force had submitted its initial recommendations last week, and acknowledged that they included "further gun safety measures, which I will take a serious look at." He declined to release any details until he has had a chance to review them in detail.

Scott asserted that there is no evidence that S.169 would save lives or reduce instances of gun violence — but he couched that statement as narrowly as possible.
"There are no comparisons to a 24-hour waiting period on handguns alone," he said. "There are no apples to apples comparisons."

He refused to say whether he thought a longer waiting period, or a bill that included all firearms, would be more effective. Scott repeatedly emphasized that he had no evidence concerning the specific case of a "24-hour waiting period on handguns alone."

The governor directly addressed Alyssa and Rob Black, who became advocates for waiting period legislation after their son Andrew shot himself last December with a gun purchased hours earlier.
"I understand their disappointment, their anger, the grief, the pain," Scott said. "I accept that. They have their opinion. The veto wasn't based strictly on their standpoint, but I understand it."

He added that he would be happy to meet in person with the Blacks if they request such a meeting.

On the signing of H.57, he called it an "important" statement at a time when other states are moving in the opposite direction on abortion rights. When asked if he could have made a stronger statement by signing the bill in a public ceremony, Scott cited time restrictions.

"We received a number of bills all at once," the governor said. "We got about 15 bills in two days. There's not enough time to put a public signing together."