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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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Thursday, October 31, 2019

Scott Pulls State-Owned Nazi Rifle Off the Market

Posted By on Thu, Oct 31, 2019 at 1:59 PM

The Nazi Reichsadler emblem on a state-owned rifle - FILE: PAUL HEINTZ
  • File: Paul Heintz
  • The Nazi Reichsadler emblem on a state-owned rifle
Gov. Phil Scott on Thursday directed the Vermont Department of Buildings and General Services to cancel the pending sale of a state-owned rifle bearing a Nazi emblem.

As Seven Days reported Wednesday, the department has in recent months been selling hundreds of seized and abandoned firearms to make room in police evidence rooms. Among the remaining weapons are two World War II-era 8mm Mauser K98 bolt-action rifles featuring the Nazi Reichsadler emblem — an eagle clutching a swastika. One of the two guns was up for bid when Seven Days' story went to press.

Though an April 2018 law mandated the sale of all the seized and abandoned firearms, the governor found that he had the discretion to choose when to sell them, according to Scott spokesperson Rebecca Kelley. "With that determination, the governor directed BGS to hold both weapons as we determine next steps," she said. "As any additional sales go forward, those two will not be included."

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Monday, August 26, 2019

Man Charged With Sending ICE a Phony Tip

Posted By on Mon, Aug 26, 2019 at 6:08 PM

AARON SHREWSBURY
  • Aaron Shrewsbury
A Burlington man was charged in federal court Monday with making a phony complaint to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to charging documents. Cole Swarkowski, 23, claimed that he had overheard a man, whom he said was South African, talk about obtaining guns in order to harm others.

"This individual is not american, he is dangerous, he wants to carry firearms and I heard him say that he wants to harm individuals with said firearms," said that tip, submitted though an online portal. The agency asked a Vermont State Police trooper to find and interview the man named.

A trooper conducted a vehicle stop. The man was with his wife and their newborn child, according to an affidavit filed by Homeland Security Special Agent Timothy O'Leary.

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Monday, June 10, 2019

Scott Vetoes Gun-Purchase Waiting Period, Signs Abortion Bill

Posted By on Mon, Jun 10, 2019 at 8:58 PM

Gov. Phil Scott - FILE: JOSH KUCKENS
  • File: Josh Kuckens
  • Gov. Phil Scott
Updated on June 11, 2019.

Gov. Phil Scott on Monday vetoed a 24-hour waiting period for handgun sales in Vermont and signed a bill protecting a woman's right to an abortion.

The legislature passed S.169 to create a cooling-off period to reduce acts of impulsive gun violence, especially suicides. But Scott, citing a number of other gun restrictions he has signed, said he didn't think the new bill hit the mark.

“With these measures in place, we must now prioritize strategies that address the underlying causes of violence and suicide," Scott said in a statement. "I do not believe S.169 addresses these areas."

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Wednesday, May 15, 2019

24-Hour Handgun Waiting Period Clears Vermont House

Posted By on Wed, May 15, 2019 at 10:04 PM

Alyssa and Rob Black testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee in February - FILE: TAYLOR DOBBS
  • File: Taylor Dobbs
  • Alyssa and Rob Black testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee in February
The Vermont House advanced legislation late Wednesday evening that would mandate a 24-hour waiting period before all handgun purchases in the state.

The House backed the bill by a vote of 82 to 58 — enough to secure passage, but not enough to override a possible veto by Gov. Phil Scott, who has expressed general opposition to new gun laws. Such an override would require 100 votes in the 150-member House.

Rob and Alyssa Black of Essex, whose 23-year-old son Andrew killed himself with a handgun last December just hours after purchasing it, watched the lengthy debate stoically from the rear of the House chamber. Afterward, they hugged supporters and expressed relief and appreciation to legislators.

"It was a hard decision, but it was the right decision," Rob Black said of those who backed the bill.

“We believe that Gov. Scott has shown time and time again that he’s willing to make courageous decisions,” Alyssa Black said, expressing optimism that he might sign it. “I would hope he would show that again.”

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Monday, May 13, 2019

Vermont House to Vote on 24-Hour Handgun Waiting Period

Posted By on Mon, May 13, 2019 at 3:57 PM

Bill Moore of the Vermont Traditions Coalition testifies before the House Judiciary Committee Monday. - KEVIN MCCALLUM
  • Kevin McCallum
  • Bill Moore of the Vermont Traditions Coalition testifies before the House Judiciary Committee Monday.

Updated at 6:20 p.m.

A key Vermont House committee voted 7-4 on Monday in favor of legislation that would require a 24-hour waiting period for handgun purchases in the state. The bill, S.169, had been stuck in the House Judiciary Committee for weeks, its fate uncertain — but now it's headed for the House floor in the waning days of the legislative session.

Rep. Barbara Rachelson (D-Burlington) backed the bill Monday, explaining, "There are places where it takes longer to adopt a pet from the humane society."

Her colleague on the committee, Rep. Tom Burditt (R-West Rutland), opposed the legislation, but he stressed that it could have included more onerous restrictions on gun owners. "I’m not thrilled about it, but it’s probably the best deal that firearms owners can get,” Burditt said.

If the full House approves the legislation as written, it would go straight to Gov. Phil Scott for signature, because the Senate has already passed an identical version. Scott has not specifically stated whether he would sign or veto the bill, but he has expressed general opposition to new gun laws.

“The governor has said he needs to review the bill once it’s finalized,” Scott spokesperson Rebecca Kelley said.

A vote later this week on the House floor should make clear whether supporters have enough votes — two-thirds of the 150-member chamber — to override a potential veto. The Senate's 20-10 vote in March suggested that it had the votes for an override.


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Tuesday, April 16, 2019

One Dead After Shootout in Burlington's Old North End

Posted By on Tue, Apr 16, 2019 at 7:37 PM

Police interview witnesses on North Willard Street. - DEREK BROUWER
  • Derek Brouwer
  • Police interview witnesses on North Willard Street.
A 23-year-old man was killed and another man was injured during a Tuesday afternoon shootout in Burlington's Old North End.

The two men shot each other in the driveway of a North Willard Street home, police said in a press release. Benzel Hampton was shot in the head and died. The other man, whom Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo did not identify, was also shot but is expected to survive.

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