By Alan J. Keays
A House-backed gun bill sent to the Senate just before the crossover deadline appears shelved in that chamber in favor of two other pieces of firearms legislation.
Lawmakers returned to the Statehouse on Tuesday following their annual weeklong Town Meeting Day break. Hundreds of opponents of stricter gun laws gathered in the capitol building, while supporters held a smaller demonstration outside in the snow.
Gun legislation has taken center stage in Montpelier following the arrest of 18-year-old Jack Sawyer of Poultney last month. Police say they thwarted a plot by Sawyer to shoot up his Fair Haven Union School and create “mass casualties.”
The chilling details of his alleged plot laid out in a police affidavit — together with a national movement to tighten gun laws in the wake of a mass shooting in Florida — has prompted a flurry of gun legislation.
One of those bills, H.675, passed the House on March 2, the crossover deadline when most bills have to come out of committee in order to be taken up by the other chamber.
However, despite House lawmakers meeting that crossover deadline and passing H.675 in the full chamber, that bill looks unlikely to move forward in the Senate.
“H.675 is not going to be the bill that gets taken up,” Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe said Tuesday. “We are going to be working on 422 in Judiciary and the arrangement with House leadership is they will take up 221. So in the end, those two bills will be the ones that pass.”
H.422 passed the House last session and allows law enforcement to seize firearms in certain domestic violence situations. S.211, which unanimously passed the Senate earlier this session, allows authorities to temporarily seize firearms from people deemed to pose an “extreme threat” to themselves or others.
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