Guns

In foreground, House Speaker Mitzi Johnson, left, and Bennington County Sen. Dick Sears, right , talk after a meeting on gun legislation Tuesday.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

Vermont’s top elected officials have vowed to move ahead with new restrictions on gun ownership, but a debate between the House and Senate this week shows that finding consensus on firearms legislation will be easier said than done.

Angela McDevitt is being credited with helping to thwart what could have been a deadly school shooting in Vermont.
Angela McDevitt

On the day a shooter in Florida killed 17 people at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, 18-year old Jack Sawyer of Poultney, Vermont was allegedly texting with his friend Angela McDevitt. "That's fantastic. 100% support it" he is reported to have written about the Parkland shooting. "It's just natural selection, taken up a notch."

Gun control advocates demonstrate at the State House in Montpelier, on Tuesday Feb. 20, 2018.
Wilson Ring / AP

The conversation around gun control in Vermont has changed significantly in the days following the arrest of an 18-year-old for allegedly plotting a mass shooting in Fair Haven. Republican Gov. Phil Scott, who had resisted any changes to the state's gun laws, now has presented a set of proposals to tighten them, and lawmakers are already taking action. We’re talking about what might happen.

Abby Hawkins and Victoria Quint, both 18-year-old seniors at Rutland High School are organizing a "March for Our Lives" in downtown Rutland on March 24 to coincide with a national march that day in Washington DC.
Nina Keck / VPR

High school students in Rutland say calls for better gun control by survivors of last week's deadly high school shooting in Florida have pushed them into action.

A small group has begun organizing a protest event in downtown Rutland, and they want middle and high school students across Vermont to join them. 

Leah Sagan-Dworsky, 19, of Montpelier, was among the people calling for stricter gun laws at a rally on the steps of the Statehouse Tuesday. Sagan-Dworsky is holding a sign asking Sen. Dick Sears to move two bills out of commitee.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

A bill that would require background checks for private gun sales in Vermont has been stuck in the Senate Judiciary Committee since last year, but the legislation could be headed for a vote on the Senate floor even without the committee’s approval.

Nearly 1,000 people showed up at the Statehouse Tuesday evening to argue for and against proposed legislation that would allow police to temporarily remove guns from someone arrested or cited for domestic violence.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

In the latest testament to the enduring salience of the politics of firearms in Vermont, nearly 1,000 people turned out at a public hearing in the Statehouse Tuesday evening to offer impassioned arguments for — and against — proposed gun legislation.

Rep. Peter Welch wants House Republican leaders to hold a vote on several gun control proposals
AP/Toby Talbot

Vermont Democratic Rep. Peter Welch voted against legislation approved by the U.S. House that's been identified as a top priority of the National Rifle Association.

This Feb. 1, 2013, file photo shows a "bump stock" next to a disassembled .22-caliber rifle at North Raleigh Guns in Raleigh, N.C. A similar device was used by the gunman in Las Vegas who killed 58 people
Allen Breed / Associated Press

Rep. Peter Welch says he's disappointed that House Speaker Paul Ryan has decided not to pursue legislation that would ban the devices used in the Las Vegas shootings that allow semi automatic rifles to function more as automatic weapons.

Rep. Peter Welch backs plan to end secrecy of settlements in cases of sexual harassment involving members of Congress
Taylor Dobbs / VPR/file

Rep. Peter Welch is backing legislation to prohibit the sale of devices that turn semi-automatic rifles into weapons that allow shooters to fire hundreds of rounds per minute.

screenshot from GoFundMe campaign

The shocking news from Las Vegas hit southwestern Vermont hard, after the community learned that a local woman was one of the 59 people killed at a country music concert Sunday.

Sandy Casey's family goes back generations in Dorset and Manchester. People in the area were reeling Tuesday as they came to grips with the fact that one of their own was taken away in the carnage that unfolded in Las Vegas.

Henry Epp / VPR

In Vermont, of all the deaths by gunshot wounds in the last six years, more than a quarter were suicides by current or former members of the armed forces. Even though Veterans Affairs knows that soldiers are at greater risk of taking their own lives, it’s difficult to intervene successfully.

Now, one Vermont mom who lost her son has made it her mission to end veteran suicide.

Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

The House Judiciary Committee has advanced legislation that would allow Vermont police to temporarily seize firearms from the scene of an alleged domestic assault.

House lawmakers gave final approval to a wide-ranging gun bill Tuesday night. The legislation heads now to the Vermont Senate, which is expected to hold a final vote before the end of the week.
Angela Evancie / VPR file

There have been no snow days for elected officials this week, and that’s probably because they have some big legislative deadlines to hit in the next few days.

Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

A renewed effort to require universal background checks for all gun sales in Vermont is beginning to encounter some of the same resistance that thwarted a similar push two years ago.

New Hampshire Firearms Safety Coalition

Vermont’s suicide rate is higher than the national average by about 30 percent. According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2014 Vermont’s rate was 19 people per 100,000,compared to 13 per 100,000 nationally.

Additionally, 48 percent of Vermont suicides involved guns.

Angela Evancie / VPR file

All three members of Vermont's Congressional delegation say they support a bi-partisan gun control compromise offered by Maine Sen. Susan Collins. And the delegation views the Collins proposal as just the first step in restricting access to firearms.

Rep. Peter Welch's Office, courtesy

Vermont Congressman Peter Welch joined fellow Democrats in a protest on the House floor that ultimately stretched 25 hours, and put a spotlight on the national debate over federal gun laws. He joins us on Vermont Edition on Monday to explain why he participated in the sit-in, and what he wants to happen next.

Peter Hirschfeld / VPR file

Bruce Lisman, a Republican gubernatorial candidate, joined Vermont Edition for a one-on-one discussion. This interview is part of VPR's "Meet the Candidates" series, where we address a range of topics, but also want each participating candidate’s thoughts on four specific issues: gun control, taxes, marijuana legalization and health care.

Peter Hirschfeld / VPR file

Matt Dunne is one of three Democratic candidates for governor heading into the primary, and he joined Vermont Edition for a one-on-one discussion.

Rep. Peter Welch's Office, courtesy

Starting Wednesday morning, U.S. House Democrats staged a rare sit-in on the House floor to demand action on gun violence. Vermont Rep. Peter Welch was among those that participated, and spoke to VPR Wednesday afternoon from the cloakroom off the House floor.

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