After Marathon 10-Hour Debate, Vermont House Passes Gun Control Bill

Mar 23, 2018

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. 

Here's the final breakdown —

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:

So what's next for the bill? Here's what we know.

A closer look at the debate

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.