Vermont Senate passes gun control measure, Republican Gov. Scott signals he’ll sign

Michael Bielawski/TNR

NOT THE BILL THEY WERE LOOKING FOR: Some members of the Senate Judiciary Committee were not happy Thursday with the fact that S.55 came back with potentially unenforceable provisions, such as limits on magazine capacity. On Friday, Democrat Sen. Dick Sears, center, tried but failed to get his name removed as co-sponsor of the bill.

MONTPELIER, Vt. — The Vermont Senate on Friday afternoon passed sweeping gun control regulations, setting the stage for quick approval from Republican Gov. Phil Scott, who praised lawmakers and said he supports the measure.

After weighing the possibility of amending S.55, which changed after going through the House of Representatives, senators decided instead to concur and send the bill on to the governor’s desk.

As approved by the General Assembly, the bill expands background checks to private sales, raises the purchase age of guns to 21, bans bump stocks and limits magazines to 15 rounds for handguns and 10 rounds for shotguns.

Scott issued a statement immediately following the Senate’s narrow 17-13 vote, and expressed his pleasure with lawmakers for enacting gun control.

Gov. Phil Scott

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott

“I put forward an action plan last month with steps to better ensure the safety and well-being of all Vermonters. … I thank the Legislature for responding to my request to act, moving forward on bills that will help keep guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them,” he said.

“As I’ve said, I strongly support the second amendment and all Constitutional rights. I support S.55, S.221 and H.422 because I believe these bills uphold these rights, while taking reasonable steps to reduce the risk of violence.”

Gun rights advocates across Vermont are furious, however. Their message to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday was that by limiting magazines and preventing some younger Vermonters from purchasing guns, many people will be unable to defend themselves and their families from threats.

Some members of the Senate Judiciary expressed frustration that a minor bill about handing of confiscated guns turned into a comprehensive gun control package.

“I was opposed to S.55 the way it left the Senate floor, though I was in favor of it when it left our committee [when it was just about gun storage],” Sen. Joe Benning, R-Caledonia, said. “And I certainly got more concerned after it came over from the House, and now we are making decisions on how to best try to address those provisions from the House that are especially onerous.”

He went on to say he was torn between trying to make the bill better and letting it stumble and fall.

On Friday, Sen. Dick Sears, D-Bennington, chair of the committee, requested to have his name as co-sponsor removed from the legislation, but was denied. Sears attempted to strip out the ban on high-capacity magazines during the committee process, but the whole Senate voted  against his amendment, leaving the ban intact.

In one instance, Benning and Chris Bradley, president of Vermont Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, had a discussion on how the ammunition capacity limit could put law-abiding citizens at a disadvantage against violent criminals who don’t follow the law.

“There are millions of devices on the streets today,” Benning said. “If an aggressor advancing has one of those and I am limited by law to a 10-round magazine, what good is the argument for a right to self-defense in the Constitution?”

Benning also said the age limit to buy guns could leave young adults especially vulnerable.

“It seems to me that a person between the ages of 18 and 20 can be threatened and be in danger to the extent where a relief from abuse order could be issued, yet in that critical time they may be summoned to take a course for firearms defense and is encumbered by waiting until what is likely to be a seasonal gun safety course can happen.”

Meanwhile, Bradley called the 10-round limit unenforceable.

“There is quite literally almost no way that law enforcement can enforce section 8,” he said. ” …  I will not belabor this, but magazines are not typically serial numbered, and they rarely have a date of manufacturing on them.”

He explained that if an officer finds one of these high capacity magazines, his or her ability to prove when or where it was purchased, or when it was manufactured, will “be virtually impossible.”

Sears questioned whether anyone in law enforcement is even going to take the new measure seriously.

“I’ve also heard a number law enforcement people say they are not going to enforce this law,” Sears said. “So, if nobody is going to enforce it, what’s the big deal? I guess that’s a devil’s advocate question for you.”

Attorney General TJ Donovan called in to the committee meeting Thursday and spoke strongly in favor of S.55. On the concern about enforceability, he said there needs to be faith in Vermonters to follow the law. Sears responded by reading a headline from a VTDigger news story that read, “AG’s office: Magazine limit in gun bill ‘largely unenforceable’.”

The headline came from the day before, when the same committee heard Assistant Attorney General David Scherr report that “the attorney general has some serious concerns about the practical enforceability of this measure.”

But Donovan doubled down and said the bill could work simply by trusting Vermonters to follow the law.

“I think the enforceability of that comes down to public awareness and public education and trusting Vermonters — that’s what we do in this state,” he said.

Bradley cited a Vermont Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs poll on the economic impact of S.55, which suggested that Vermont firearms businesses would be hurt by the legislation. Of those businesses polled, 11 responded that S.55 would negatively impact sales. Ten said they may possibly relocate out of state due to the legislation.

In response to the Senate’s move on guns — especially the ban on standard capacity rifle magazines — Texas-based Magpul Industries and the editors of Recoil Magazine announced they will be delivering 30-round AR-15 rifle magazines to Vermonters overnight and free of charge as part of an operation dubbed “Green Mountain Airlift.”

Recoil Executive Editor Rob Curtis expects to give away 1,200 of the PMAGs starting 2:30 p.m. Saturday in front of the Vermont Statehouse in Montpelier.

“We’re grateful to MAGPUL’s Duane Liptak for spearheading the overnight donation of 400 pounds of freedom to the Green Mountain State,” Curtis said Friday in a statement. “His swift action means we will get the magazines here before Governor Phil Scott signs S.55 into law, trampling the rights of law-abiding Vermonters.”

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North Reports. Send him news tips at and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB. Bruce Parker contributed to this story.

Images courtesy of Michael Bielawski/TNR and Gov. Phil Scott

26 thoughts on “Vermont Senate passes gun control measure, Republican Gov. Scott signals he’ll sign

  1. I am concerned that most of the new proposed gun laws especially those of increasing the age to 21 to buy a firearm and the maximum 10 round clip law are the two that bother me the most. Also taking guns away from someone accused of home violence or threatening their own life is full of holes. This will be abused because it allows open season on someone who someone else just doesn’t like to claim that the person they simply do not like has been violent to them or just to come up with the statement that someone has threatened to commit suicide just to get back at them and have their means of protection taken away. These charges need to be proved or disproved as the case may be and in the case of home violence the case needs to come to court immediately and if the guns are confiscated before court they need to be returned to the owner within 2 weeks. The gun grabbers should not be able to drag their feet in returning the firearms and I am concerned that even if the defendant is proven innocent of these charges that the gun grabbers would like to never return the firearms once the guns are in the possession of the gun grabbers;

  2. The aftermath of gun control, what’s happening in the UK. They also banned “……not only are subjects of the U.K. forbidden to own or carry guns, but they also aren’t permitted to own or carry knives, and apparently now are forbidden from possessing files, needle-nosed pliers, scissors, screwdrivers or wire cutters.”

    Also mentioned “In a one year period ending in September 2017, there were 37,443 reported knife offenses as compared to 6,694 gun offenses. Of those knife crimes across the entirety of the U.K., no less than 12,980 took place in the city of London alone, an increase of about 2,452 over the previous year.”

    This will keep the Libs busy and Gov Scott signing fingers will become cramped.

  3. Can anyone tell me where I can find an accurate list of those who voted for this piece of trash?

    • These are the Senatorial list.

      A handy guide to remember in November,which Senators to reelect and who to Oust from office.

      Supporters of concurring with the House version of the bill were:

      Sens. Tim Ashe, D/P-Chittenden; Claire Ayer, D-Addison; Becca Balint, D-Windham; Phil Baruth, D/P-Chittenden; Chris Bray, D-Addison; Francis Brooks, D-Washington; Brian Campion, D-Bennington; Alison Clarkson, D-Windsor; Ann Cummings, D-Washington; Debbie Ingram, D-Chittenden; Ginny Lyons, D-Chittenden; Mark MacDonald, D-Orange; Dick McCormack, D-Windsor; Chris Pearson, P/D-Chittenden; Anthony Pollina, P/D-Washington; Michael Sirotkin, D-Chittenden; and Jeanette White, D-Windsor.

      Voting against concurring were:

      Sens. Joe Benning, R-Caledonia; Carolyn Branagan, R-Franklin; Randy Brock, R-Franklin; Brian Collamore, R-Rutland; Peg Flory, R-Rutland; Jane Kitchel, D-Caledonia; Dick Mazza, D-Grand Isle; Alice Nitka, D-Windsor; John Rodgers, D-Essex-Orleans; Dick Sears, D-Bennington; David Soucy, R-Rutland; Robert “Bobby” Starr, D-Essex-Orleans; and Richard Westman, R-Lamoille.

    • Equally important, we need a list of local organizations already in the fight that we can throw our support behind. No point in starting from scratch, but we absolutely need to build the type of offense that can run these bastards out of Montpelier and maybe even back to where they came from. They are counting on gun owners/hunters being in the woods in November and not in the voting booths. They have big out of state money behind them and it is going to take an all out push to defeat them in the polls and regain control of the state we loved. Over regulation and over taxation are killing Vermont and it has to end.

  4. Interesting the old fart Dick Sears wanted his name removed from the S.55 Bill, why? What’s he afraid of? He didn’t know the bill was so bad, should take up reading 101. How did he get into Gov, needed a pay check? Mentally impaired? That’s one trouble.

    Seems someone is afraid of someone with this bill (Law). I don’t expect they (idiot lawmakers) are concerned about citizens protecting themselves from themselves, but protects lawmakers from the citizens. As the saying goes, “From my Cold Dead Hands”.

    With this legislation, you wonder who is the mentally impaired, why are they there? The mentally impaired vote for the mentally impaired. The Lib Gov is the dangerous one. Scott got to the Governorship with outside air. That Montpelier excessive carbon dioxide air corrupts and renders one stupefied, the DUH factor. Scott will sign his departure document. Hopefully a new administration will by Executive Power over-ride this gun control law.

    Got this from my son in MD interesting about VT. Recoil Magazine article. Grab them while you can.

    Just as a criminal can get guns as done in Chicago, people can get around this law.
    Interesting about law enforcement attitudes:
    380 Sheriffs in 40 States Just Issued Orders to Congress on Behalf of Pres. Trump

    Need Keith Stern

  5. Not only are the taxes going to drive me and others out of this state for retirement but so will this stupid legislation that effects on the legal gun owner and not the people causing the problems or the places that the problems are being caused at. If another school shooting happens, instead of hardening school entrances, the legislature in their infinite idiocy, will ban semi automatics all together even if the shooting is done with an AR with a 10 round magazine. They just don’t get it nor do the people who keep electing these fools either.

  6. Its a sad day in Vermont. Politicians who know nothing about guns just passed a bunch of garbage that will do absolutely nothing to ensure school safety or any other safety. Clearly these people want total firearm confiscation and will not stop until that happens. The big lie is when anyone of them say that they do not want to take your guns. If we let them they will come back year after year and chip away until confiscation is the only thing left. We must not let this happen. It’s easy to find out who voted for and against this bill. Then we must vote the offenders out of office and reward the gun owners supporters with re-election. When I ask people why they keep re-electing the same politicians who go against our wishes over and over I get the same answer. ” At least we know who we got now ” I believe that’s called ” Better the devil we know ” The good thing about our system is that it allows us to keep electing different people until we get the right person. I was overjoyed when Phil Scott was elected until he perpetrated one of the quickest backstabbing in recent memory. I ask all Vermonters to look at this as a call to arms and let’s put an end to the disrespectful legislators who ignore their constituents by voting them out of their jobs and make Phil Scott a one term Governor.

  7. OK, Phil, you gave Vermont more gun laws and turned on us all. So when the next mass shooting occurs, and it will, more laws didn’t work. I think it’s about time someone come up with a better solution like severely punishing these idiots by NOT watering down the injustice system.

  8. Well I read with interest Marty’s yo I need your some of the things I picked from that..

    He slithered into Vermont because he liked it here

    I guess somewhere along the line he decided it was best to change the culture of a state well over 200 years old that respected gun so he went ahead and proposed new gun legislation that hurts every man woman and child in this state..

    To go easy on him in this article I will call him a slime ball..

    As you can see from his background this is a man that surely has no knowledge of guns yet along with the rest of the Socialists under the golden dome in Montpelier they decided to destroy Vermont while lying to the public telling them these gun laws made our children safer in schools.. if you listened to the passing of this bill today you will see that those with a common sense approach understood this bill does nothing to protect children in the schools

    Now our liar of a governor is promising to sign a bill that he swore to the gun owners in this state he would veto..

    Well this is a little boar about Marty..

    For a number of years, Martin, his wife Anne, and his children Griffin and Tess went on family vacations at the Tyler Place Resort in Highgate Springs, Vermont. They fell in love with the state so, in 2007, they moved to South Burlington where Martin became a stay-at-home dad.

    In his free time, Martin enjoys biking, cross country skiing, and playing the guitar. He also enjoys cooking and, in September 2011, he won the Shelburne Orchard’s annual apple pie contest. Every November for the past five years,
    Watercolor painting has also become a serious hobby for Martin,

    This whole committee including Maxine Grad refused to hold a public hearing because they knew the odds were against them and they wanted to Ram this down the throats of the people in Vermont

    All I can say now is it Phil Scott doesn’t grow a pair and he signs this bill we need to become very active to vote every one of these Liars out of office

    I do want to say thanks to everyone in the legislature and the Senators who stood their ground and used common sense and voted no do these ridiculous gun laws.

  9. I have read the 1957? Playboy satire of pipe dream article. Stated that Rock Ribbed Republicans had
    an unchallenged monopoly on Vermont. 1957, to 2017 = 60 years.

    But it went on that there was a tiny fringe of the Democrat Party which could easily be taken over by good folks who came to Vermont with the purpose to make their own new UTOPIA.

    Wide open, available for the taking, good Ol’ Vermont

  10. This was never about gun control and it was always bigger than VT.
    Like first in the nation civil union legislation twenty years ago, they made you think most Vermonters approved.

    Sure they held hearings but the liberal media skewed the results and the law is history. Now we have gay marriage, and gender neutral bathrooms.

    Vermonters have been swindled once again. What’s next?

  11. Hey Scott are you paying attention to the folks or are you hung up with a bunch of utopian tree huggers?.. Thought you were on our side. Looks as if we have another liberal under disguise.

  12. We have had for 3 years the exact laws in Washington State that Vermont just passed. The hilariouis part is that nobody is paying any attention to this law, law enforcement is not arresting anyone, and even if they did, prosecutors are too busy prosecuting other much more important cases rather than take valuable time to prosecute a meaningless law such as this.

  13. The Liberal Battle Cry ” Common Sense Gun Laws ” these surly missed the boat on these !

    As stated above by Senator Sears questioned whether anyone in” law enforcement ” is even
    going to take the new measure seriously !!

    Then you have Attorney General TJ Donovan spoke strongly in favor of S.55. Then from a
    VTDigger news story that read, “AG’s office: Magazine limit in gun bill ” largely unenforceable ” speaking of an oxymoron !! ……………….. NO Nonsense Bills and they know it .

    So apparenlty our legislators feel that an 18 year old doesn’t have the maturity to own a firearm
    so they change the age to 21, But they’ll let a 16 year old Drive a 5,000 lbs bullet, Now that makes
    a lot of sense…… And we all know they don’t Text & Drive …………. sure !!

    So why not change the voting age to 21 also, I don’t believe they are mentally mature enough to handle that responsibility , as I see by the current cast we have in Montpelier making this kind
    of legislation …………..

    So why were these bills put in to play, The Liberal Mindset do something even if it’s wrong and
    will only accomplish one thing PO law abiding citizens …..

    So the voting on this Bill was 17 yea – 13 Nay , well at least we know we have 13 with common
    sense still in Montpelier .

  14. Zuckerman, Ashe, Grad, Buruth, LaLonde, Johnson and many more all from out of state and are instigators of gun control laws in Vermont.While everyone was ignoring politics and thinking that dads old democratic party was for the little guy, these flatlander progressives came and took control of our state. We all better get off our asses and work to see that they are removed. If not, they will be back next year to take more of your freedom,

  15. As I always said. These people have an agenda and it doesn’t matter if it makes sense or not. They are backed by out of State money and their ultimate goal is to remove all guns.

    It’s astonishing to see that our Attorney general-T J Donovan state the we just need to trust Vermonters to follow the law. If you trusted Vermonters, you wouldn’t need these so called common sense laws so I guess that statement makes a whole lot of sense and he’s our Attorney General? It just shows how much our leaders in this State are out of touch with reality. Where did these people come from??
    They just bend over for the loudest screamers whether it’s right or wrong. It’s really shameful.
    They will hear us loud and clear come the next election..

  16. It appears from a quick search that all but one, maybe two, of the senators who voted to regulate guns are not from Vermont. They came here from other states and countries, got elected, and began the work of dismantling Vermont.

    • Precisely Steven and they are all part of this new age of progressive politicians who are absolutely certain that they know what is best for everyone. Any pretense of public hearings on these issues is for public show only. They whine, wring their hands, wet their pants, and cry that “we must do something!!!!” That “something” doesn’t have to make any sense or actually amount to anything…………it just has to be something. They have no interest in anything other than turning Vermont into another California or Connecticut. Maybe they could start by insisting that the thousands of gun laws on the books throughout this country, and that were supported by gun owners and the NRA, actually be enforced. This is why organizations like Gun Owners of America refuse to compromise because some is never enough for these people and never will be. They also count on one major chink in the armor of gun owners………………….that, come November, you will be out in the woods instead of in the voting booth.

  17. Now maybe these genius legeslators can forge ahead and pass laws making murder, rape, heroin dealing, and burglary illegal also. I’m sure that the criminals in Vermont, and coming to Vermont from NYC, will take heed of these new laws and will obey them in the fullest. Enjoy your short stay in the governor’s mansion Scott, for your name is now poison to gun owners everywhere!

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