Guns

An AR-15 rifle pictured with a 30-round magazine and a 10-round magazine. Vermont law now prohibits the sale and purchase of magazines with more than 10 rounds. The high-capacity magazine ban is the focus of one of two lawsuits in Vermont courts.
Charles Krupa / AP

Episode 4 of VPR's five-part podcast series, JOLTED, explores how Republican Gov. Phil Scott, a gun rights advocate, declared that Vermont needed more gun control laws. Within months, Senate Bill 55 was passed, putting several restrictions on gun and ammunition purchases.

Jared Carter, an associate professor at Vermont Law School and VPR commentator, joined Vermont Edition to discuss two lawsuits challenging the new law.

A bump stock next to a disassembled .22-caliber rifle, shown in 2013. While the House passed a ban on bump stocks Friday, the Senate version of S.55 did not include such a provision.
Allen Breed / Associated Press File

On Oct. 1, it will be illegal in Vermont to possess bump stocks — a device that attaches to a semi-automatic weapon to speed up the rate it fires.

And starting Monday, Sept. 17, the Vermont State Police will accept bump stocks from residents who voluntarily turn them over.

Gov. Phil Scott signed the gun bill into law at contentious ceremony at the Statehouse in April. A gun rights group says several provisions in the new law violate the Vermont Constitution.
Emily Alfin Johnson / VPR file

Vermont’s new gun law is under fresh legal fire from gun rights advocates, who are challenging the constitutionality of universal background checks, raising the legal age to purchase a gun to 21 years old and a ban on bump stocks.

When Dorothy Paugh was 9, her father bought a pistol and started talking openly about ending his life. Her mother was terrified but didn't know what to do.

"She called our priest and called his best friend," Paugh recalled. "They came and talked to him, and they didn't ask to take his gun away."

Her father was 51 when he shot himself to death.

Gov. Phil Scott signed the gun bill into law at contentious ceremony at the Statehouse in April. A gun rights group says several provisions in the new law violate the Vermont Constitution.
Emily Alfin Johnson / VPR file

Gov. Phil Scott came under fire from gun-rights advocates when he signed a sweeping gun bill earlier this year, but the VPR - Vermont PBS Poll shows two-thirds of Vermonters support the new law.

So far, more than 250 schools have applied for state grant money to improve their security infrastructure.
Kameleon007 / iStock

This spring, the state conducted a wide ranging survey on the security of its schools in response to an alleged attempted school shooting and allocated $4 million in grants for those schools to improve their security. Now the money is available and grant applications have been pouring in.

The Episcopal Church in the United States will start investing in gun companies. That's after a bishop in western Massachusetts pushed for the move.

In the wake of the Parkland high school massacre, there's been renewed interest in "red flag" laws, which allow courts and police to temporarily remove guns from people perceived to pose a threat.

The new research offers insight into the laws' effect — and it may not be what you think.

"Although these laws tended to be enacted after mass shooting events, in practice, they tend to be enforced primarily for suicide prevention," says Aaron Kivisto, a clinical psychologist with the University of Indianapolis who studies gun violence prevention.

Jack Sawyer sits in Rutland criminal court on Wednesday, April 25.
Robert Layman / Rutland Herald / Pool

Jack Sawyer was released from prison on bail Friday morning. Sawyer is the 18-year old accused of plotting to attack Fair Haven Union High School.

Jack Sawyer sits in Rutland criminal court on Wednesday, April 25.
Robert Layman / Rutland Herald / Pool

On Wednesday morning, a judge in Rutland Criminal Court reduced Jack Sawyer’s bail from $100,000 to $10,000.

Sen. Dick Sears, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, backs bill to expand domestic terrorism law to deal with cases like the alleged incident at Fair Haven Union High School
Angela Evancie / VPR

The Vermont Senate has given unanimous approval to legislation that updates the state's domestic terrorism laws as a way to help thwart future mass shootings.

 A gun rally drew more than a thousand people to Montpelier Saturday; some came in part to pick up a free high capacity magazine that will be banned under new legislation.
John Dillon / VPR File

A constitutional challenge of Vermont’s new ban on high-capacity magazines will hinge less on the Second Amendment than on Article 16 of the Vermont Constitution.

Senate Judiciary chairman Dick Sears is looking to modify Vermont's domestic terrorism laws as a way to deal with future cases of violence
Angela Evancie / VPR File

After a Vermont Supreme Court ruling last week said Jack Sawyer could not be held without bail because his actions did not constitute "an attempt" to commit a crime, the Senate Judiciary Committee is exploring the state's domestic terrorism law as a way to charge similar crimes in the future.

Opponents and supporters of Vermont's new gun laws made thier voices heard at Gov. Scott's public signing of the bills into law.
Chip Allen / Times Argus

Gov. Phil Scott has signed three gun control measures into law, the first such rules for Vermont. We want to hear your thoughts on these laws and how you think they'll shape Vermont. 

Gov. Phil Scott signed the gun bill into law at contentious ceremony at the Statehouse in April. A gun rights group says several provisions in the new law violate the Vermont Constitution.
Emily Alfin Johnson / VPR file

S.55, a bill that became the unexpected hot-button issue of the session so far, was signed into law Wednesday on the steps of the Vermont Statehouse.

Stowe High School student Sam Robertson holds an American flag and stands in front of a truck.
John Dillon / VPR

In just a few months, young people — some who can’t yet vote – have led the U.S. and Vermont on a dizzying pace of change around gun control legislation. Far less visible are the students who favor gun rights.

Essex Orleans Democratic Sen. John Rodgers is running a write-in campaign to be the Democratic nominee for governor.
Bob Kinzel / VPR

Opponents of a comprehensive gun control bill are making a last-minute effort to encourage Gov. Phil Scott to veto the legislation.

The Vermont Statehouse with a cloudy sky, with people gathering in front of the building.
Liam Elder-Connors / VPR

Vermont lawmakers have given their unanimous approval to two additional gun control measures. Now those are headed to Gov. Phil Scott, who has previously announced support for the bills.

Speakers lined up at the Vermont Statehouse entrance at the "March for Our Lives" on March 24.
Liam Elder-Connors / VPR

The Vermont Senate has given final approval to a sweeping set of new gun control measures, and Gov. Phil Scott says he will sign the bill, titled S. 55. We're looking at what ended up in the wide-ranging bill. Plus, we'll also look at two more bills relating to guns, H. 422 and S. 221, that the Senate is still debating.

A Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student wears a March For Our Lives backpack
Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press

A group of Randolph Union High School students is going beyond the borders of Vermont and traveling to Washington, D.C., to take part in the national "March For Our Lives" event on Saturday. 

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