April 21, 2018

Gun rights groups seethe as Scott changes tune

Gov. Phil Scott. File photo by Anne Galloway/VTDigger

‘We will not forget this betrayal’

By Colin Meyn

For VTDigger

Gov. Phil Scott is set to sign a trio of gun bills into law this week, less than two months after the arrest of a teenager allegedly plotting to shoot up a Vermont high school inspired him to publicly reverse his position on gun control.

Having previously said he felt there was no need for new gun legislation, Scott said a thwarted shooting in Fair Haven opened his eyes to the threat facing Vermont’s children, and his own responsibility to protect them.

The governor’s office said he will sign the three bills in a ceremony with administration members, legislators and victims’ right advocates, capping what he has said is the first step in an ongoing response to the issue.

The bills include two that expand police powers to seize guns when responding to domestic violence and other “extreme risk” situations. Another bill includes a series of more controversial gun control provisions, including a ban on high-capacity magazines that has proven particularly controversial.

The Republican governor has said he is well aware that he has disappointed many of his supporters with his support for the bill, but he felt compelled to pursue all options in protecting Vermonters against gun violence.

The measures include broadening background checks required for the purchase of firearms, and increasing the minimum age for gun purchases. The governor also has ordered a review of security at schools around the state, and he has launched a campaign to raise public awareness of the importance of reporting suspicious behavior.

The ban on high-capacity gun magazines is contained in S.55, the most ambitious of the three bills. That bill has inspired a series of protests by gun rights groups.

Shortly after Scott announced this week’s bill signing, Bill Moore of the Vermont Traditions Coalition sent out an email calling for protests at the Statehouse on Wednesday.

“We need you to be there to remind ALL the representatives and senators that supported this travesty that we will not forget this betrayal,” the email says, advising people to wear orange, bring their loved ones and “stand politely and peacefully at the scene while this governor strips you of your rights!”

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