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Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Scott Vetoes Gun Bill, Offers Compromise to Close 'Charleston Loophole'

Posted By on Tue, Feb 22, 2022 at 1:23 PM

Gov. Phil Scott - FILE: JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • File: Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • Gov. Phil Scott
Updated at 6:45 p.m.

Gov. Phil Scott on Tuesday vetoed a bill that would have ensured people couldn't buy firearms unless they passed a federal background check, but he signaled willingness to work with lawmakers on “a more reasonable standard.”

The legislation, S.30, sought to close the so-called “Charleston loophole" that allows people to buy guns if the Federal Bureau of Investigation hasn't finished a required background check within three days. The bill would have made someone wait until the background check was complete, regardless of how long it took.

In his veto message, Scott instead proposed a seven-day waiting period, which he said would better balance people's Second Amendment rights with the federal governments’ need to complete the required checks.

“I’m willing to work with the Legislature to find a path forward that gives the federal government more time to fulfill its obligations to complete background checks, without denying law-abiding citizens of their right to a fair and reasonable process,” Scott wrote in his veto message.

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Friday, January 14, 2022

Vermont Supreme Court Upholds Order to Close Slate Ridge Gun Range

Posted By on Fri, Jan 14, 2022 at 5:15 PM

A gun range - SONNENBERGSHOTS | DREAMSTIME
  • Sonnenbergshots | Dreamstime
  • A gun range
The Vermont Supreme Court affirmed a lower court's order that Daniel Banyai must shut down his unpermitted firearms training compound in West Pawlet, where he has been accused of intimidating neighbors.

Justices also upheld a $46,600 civil fine that the lower court had imposed on Banyai in March 2021.

Banyai has operated a tactical firearms "school," which he dubbed Slate Ridge, on his wooded property for several years. During that time, he's published anti-government statements, aligned himself with the far-right militia movement, and sent threatening messages to neighbors and local officials, a VTDigger.org investigation in 2020 revealed. He built and advertised the compound even as he faced felony firearms charges in New York State, which prevented him from legally possessing guns in that state.

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Friday, September 24, 2021

Labor Orgs Spar Over Vermont AFL-CIO Gun Rights Resolution

Posted By on Fri, Sep 24, 2021 at 3:23 PM

At Sunday's convention - COURTESY OF VERMONT AFL-CIO
  • Courtesy of Vermont AFL-CIO
  • At Sunday's convention
Some local unions are calling for one of Vermont’s largest labor groups to withdraw a controversial resolution in favor of gun rights.

The measure, passed by the Vermont AFL-CIO at its annual convention last Sunday, puts a modern twist on the age-old argument against gun control: It says that extremist groups such as those that participated in the January 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol already have access to firearms, so tighter restrictions would only succeed in preventing law-abiding citizens from defending themselves.

“Organized Labor must not rely on the armed wing of the Government to defend democracy, our communities, labor organizations, allies, and regular people in the event of a crisis or attack by fascists, white supremacists, or individual extremists,” the resolution reads.

Echoing the document, union president David Van Deusen said in an interview that it’s “counterintuitive” to believe that progressive groups such as the Vermont AFL-CIO should not have access to firearms when “extremists on the right” are “armed to the teeth.”

“That’s just the reality of the America we’re living in today,” he said.

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Friday, July 30, 2021

Vermont Gun Importer Sued After Its Rifle Was Used in Mass Shooting

Posted By on Fri, Jul 30, 2021 at 2:34 PM

A Century International Arms booth at a National Rifle Association convention in Indianapolis - AP PHOTO / JEREMY HOGAN
  • AP Photo / Jeremy Hogan
  • A Century International Arms booth at a National Rifle Association convention in Indianapolis
Victims of a 2019 mass shooting are suing the Vermont arms dealer that made the rifle a gunman used to murder attendees of a California garlic festival.

A dozen survivors last week added Century International Arms as a defendant in their pending civil lawsuit against the nonprofit that ran the annual Gilroy Garlic Festival, the City of Gilroy, Calif., and a private security contractor.

They say the gunmaker's business practices have funneled “uniquely lethal” semiautomatic rifles to criminals and “helped cause the mass shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival” that left three people dead and 17 wounded.

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Friday, February 19, 2021

Vermont Supreme Court Upholds Gun Magazine Limits

Posted By on Fri, Feb 19, 2021 at 2:57 PM

Max Misch at a press conference about the investigation into harassment of former state representative Kiah Morris - FILE: LISA RATHKE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
  • File: Lisa Rathke/Associated Press
  • Max Misch at a press conference about the investigation into harassment of former state representative Kiah Morris
The Vermont Supreme Court has unanimously upheld a state gun law banning large-capacity magazines against a legal challenge brought by a Bennington white nationalist.

The 51-page ruling issued Friday concludes that the 2018 law, intended to prevent mass shootings, is a reasonable regulation that "leaves ample means for Vermonters to exercise their right to bear arms in self-defense." To reach that conclusion, the high court produced its most expansive interpretation yet of the gun rights established by the state Constitution.

The decision settled the first challenge to the trio of landmark gun control bills that lawmakers approved and Republican Gov. Phil Scott signed in the wake of  the February 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Fla., and a local scare at Fair Haven Union High School.

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Monday, January 11, 2021

Vermont Braces for Armed Protests Leading Up to Inauguration

Posted By on Mon, Jan 11, 2021 at 7:03 PM

The Vermont Statehouse - DREAMSTIME
  • Dreamstime
  • The Vermont Statehouse
Vermont law enforcement officials are bracing for armed protesters at the Statehouse after the FBI warned of demonstrations in all state capitals between January 16 and January 20, the day of president-elect Joe Biden's inauguration.

Law enforcement agencies — including  Vermont State Police, Montpelier Police, Capitol Police and Vermont National Guard forces— are in close coordination “to monitor the threat stream” based on the “national chatter” since a violent mob of pro-President Donald Trump extremists stormed the U.S. Capitol, state Public Safety Commissioner Mike Schirling said Monday.

He declined, however, to describe the specific steps being taken to prepare for the prospect, noting that it’s still unclear what might develop. “We’re planning for a variety of potential eventualities," he said, but no specific threats have emerged.

While “we’re all feeling concern and unease as a result of what we saw last week,” Schirling said, Vermonters are used to working out their differences peacefully. Given the volatility of the political climate, however, Schirling suggested people who do come out to protest in coming days consider leaving their firearms at home.

While he said it’s “not my place to tell people where and when to protest,” he added it “makes sense to rethink the timing” of an anticipated January 17th armed rally, given recent events. “Think twice about whether this is the particular time you choose to bring a weapon to a protest, even if it is a Second Amendment issue,” Schirling said.

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Friday, April 3, 2020

Vermont to Allow Firearm Sales During Outbreak

Posted By on Fri, Apr 3, 2020 at 12:39 PM

FILE: TIM NEWCOMB
  • File: Tim Newcomb
Updated at 5:44 p.m.

Vermont gun shops can continue selling firearms during the coronavirus outbreak, according to Secretary of Commerce Lindsay Kurrle, though they must do everything they can to limit face-to-face contact.

"They're allowed to make those sales, and wherever possible we want them to do it online and [through] curbside pickup," Kurrle told Seven Days Friday morning. "But because we recognize that you can't legally buy a firearm without an in-person connection during that process, obviously that can happen."

On Friday afternoon, the state’s Agency of Commerce and Community Development issued new guidance clarifying regulations for gun shops. The rules allow for “in-person transactions to comply with background checks” but call for dealers to limit contact with buyers.

The agency recommends that gun shops make appointments with customers, use curbside pickup, conduct financial transactions over the phone, suspend browsing, limit the handling of firearms and “suspend the sale of non-essential items,” such as clothing, shoes and outdoor supplies.

The legal status of gun shops had been unclear since Gov. Phil Scott issued a "stay home, stay safe" order on March 24. The order suspended all "in-person business operations," except those deemed essential to protecting public health, safety and national security. Certain retail businesses, such as grocery stores and pharmacies, were specifically exempted from this mandate. Others, such as hardware stores, were allowed to stay open as long as they used curbside pickup "to the extent possible."

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Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Amid Coronavirus, Business Is Booming for Vermont Gun Stores

Posted By on Tue, Mar 17, 2020 at 12:57 PM

FILE: TIM NEWCOMB
  • File: Tim Newcomb
Henry Parro arrived at his central Vermont gun shop an hour and a half before it opened on Monday to do some paperwork. Ten minutes later, a car parked outside and waited.

“Once they saw that I wasn’t going to open the door, they apparently went and got a coffee,” said Parro, 61, who has owned Parro’s Gun Shop & Police Supplies in Waterbury since 1983.

When the shop finally opened at 9 a.m., the same car was back in the lot. Another was waiting close by.

Speaking to Seven Days by phone not long after, Parro counted more than a half dozen people perusing his collection within 15 minutes of opening the doors — a stream of customers that has held steady over the last week since “all hell broke loose.”

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Thursday, January 23, 2020

Vermont Senate Seeks to Revive Vetoed Gun Waiting Period Bill

Posted By on Thu, Jan 23, 2020 at 7:22 PM

Deepak Malhotra and Michael Luca of Harvard Business School testifying Thursday at the Vermont Statehouse - PAUL HEINTZ
  • Paul Heintz
  • Deepak Malhotra and Michael Luca of Harvard Business School testifying Thursday at the Vermont Statehouse
Two committees of the Vermont Senate summoned a pair of Harvard Business School professors to the Statehouse on Thursday in an attempt to breathe life into vetoed gun legislation.

The bill in question, S.169, would mandate a 24-hour waiting period before most handgun purchases. It cleared the legislature last May but was vetoed in June by Republican Gov. Phil Scott.

Since then, legislative leaders have struggled to decide whether to compromise with the governor or attempt to override his veto, which would require a two-thirds vote in both chambers. While the measure met that threshold last year in the Senate, it fell short in the House on a vote of 82 to 58.

On Thursday, senators sought to convince their colleagues — and perhaps the governor — that the bill could, in fact, save lives. They invited professors Deepak Malhotra and Michael Luca to present their research showing that waiting periods cut the homicide rate by 17 percent and the suicide rate by 7 to 11 percent.

"If this policy passes, if the objective is to reduce gun deaths, that would be something you could very much expect," Malhotra told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Health and Welfare Committee.

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Thursday, January 16, 2020

Legislators Set Their Sights on New Gun Restrictions

Posted By on Thu, Jan 16, 2020 at 12:35 AM

Adolphe Lumumba testifying before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday - PAUL HEINTZ
  • Paul Heintz
  • Adolphe Lumumba testifying before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday
Anako Lumumba tried to protect herself from an abusive ex, her brother told Vermont lawmakers on Wednesday. "But the system wasn't enough to take the guns away from the guy," Adolphe Lumumba said.

In May 2018, police have alleged, Leroy Headley shot Anako to death in the South Burlington home they once shared. She had repeatedly reported his threatening behavior to police — twice in the week before she was killed — but Headley still had legal access to firearms.

Reps. Maxine Grad (D-Moretown) and Martin LaLonde (D-South Burlington) are seeking to prevent such tragedies. The chair and ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee have introduced legislation that would require subjects of a restraining order to surrender their firearms. Their bill, H.610, would also expand the state's new "red flag law" to allow family and household members — not just law enforcement officials — to seek extreme risk protection orders, which allow for the temporary confiscation of firearms from those deemed dangerous.

Adolphe Lumumba told their committee that the bill might have helped Anako.

"I'm not here today to save my sister, but I know there's other people out there who can be saved by this," he said. "This is something my sister would have wanted, too."

The measure is one of several firearms-related bills lawmakers are considering this session.

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