A big week for gun control at the Statehouse culminated in a day-long debate over a bill that would raise the age at which Vermonters could purchase guns, ban bump stocks, require universal background checks and restrict magazine capacity.
Early in the day, the House decided to deal with the amendments of S.55 piece-by-piece. After over 10 hours of floor debate (with a 30 minute lunch break) the members of the Vermont House have outlined support for the following amendments:
- The House banned bump stocks, 119 to 25 | [How each member voted]
- The House expanded federal background checks to all private sales 83 to 61 | [How each member voted]
- The House banned high-capacity magazines 79 to 66 | [How each member voted]
- The House raised the minimum age to purchase a gun from 18 to 21, 88-56 | [How each member voted]
- The House supported the bill, 85-59 | [How each member voted]
After a marathon 10 hour debate, featuring at least 8 roll call votes on various amendments, the House has given its preliminary approval to a gun control bill. The vote was 85 to 59. The bill will come up for final approval on Tuesday morning. #VTpoli
— Bob Kinzel (@VPRKinzel) March 23, 2018
So what's next for the bill? Here's what we know.
As the debate started, the House chamber was packed with supporters and opponents of the legislation.
It was often a raw and emotional debate as backers argued that the proposal was needed to prevent future mass murders but opponents said the measure would have little or no effect on these kinds of killings.
South Burlington Rep. Martin LaLonde told his colleagues that the time has come for Vermont to deal with the gun control issue:
"Vermont is not immune to the gun violence that is shaking communities across the nation," LaLonde said. "Recent events in Las Vegas, and Florida and closer to home in Fair Haven, Vermont, underscore the threat to public safety when those who intend harm possess firearms."
But Colchester Rep. Pat Brennan says the background check amendment is trying to fix a nonexistent problem.
"I know there's a lot of emotion going on in the building and the country," Brennan said, "but when I look at a bill I want to see what it is going to do for my constituents for Vermonters. What is this going to fix? I look at this bill — it doesn't fix anything."
The measure is expected to come up for final approval in the House next Tuesday.