Editorial: Uphill battle to come on gun-control bill

Vermont’s House of Representatives could vote on a significant gun-control bill as early as this Friday. That prospect follows narrow passage of S.55 by the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. A less restrictive version of the bill had passed the Senate earlier this month, which means that if S.55 passes the full House, some version of the bill would likely be approved by the full Legislature and sent to Republican Gov. Phil Scott for his signature this session.
Gov. Scott, who had a change of heart on the issue after a teen was arrested earlier this year for threatening to kill students at Fair Haven Union High School, has said he wants to pass stricter gun control legislation.
The bill passed by the House committee approved measures that would, according to Vt.Digger:
• Expand universal background checks to include the private sales of firearms;
• Provide immunity to any licensed dealer who performs background checks in such a transfer from any civil or criminal liability, except that immunity would not apply in the event of reckless or intentional misconduct by a licensed dealer.
• Increase the age to buy a firearm in Vermont to 21, with exceptions for law enforcement and military members, including veterans, as well as a person who provides the seller with a certificate of completion of a Vermont hunter safety course or an equivalent hunter safety course that is approved by the commissioner of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.
• Prohibit a person from manufacturing, possessing, transferring, offering for sale, purchasing, receiving, or importing into the state a large capacity ammunition feeding device that can hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. The possession of such magazines legally owned before the legislation goes into effect would be exempt.
• Ban bump stocks;
• Set up a process for police to dispose of guns that are currently kept in storage, but are no longer part of an open case.
Not included in the bill, but which had been widely discussed, were restrictions to ban assault-style firearms, establish a 10-day waiting period for gun sales, and require the locked storage of firearms.
The thousands of elementary, middle and high school students (and their parents) who have rallied to this cause have made a huge difference, so far; what remains to be seen is whether they can successfully out-gun the gun lobby to get the bill across the finish line. That’s an uphill battle still to come.
Angelo Lynn

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