Gun control bill, citing suicide concerns, goes to House Judiciary

House Education to consider gun, weapon ban on all school property

by Guy Page and Tim Page

A gun control bill purportedly for “implementing mechanisms to reduce suicide” was approved 7-3 last week by the House Human Services Committee and is up for House Judiciary Committee review Wednesday at 9 AM. 

H230 makes these claims:

  • More than 700 Vermont residents died of gunshot wounds in the decade from 2011 to 2020. 88 percent of these deaths were suicide. Of all the deaths in Vermont involving firearms in 2021, 89 perceny were by suicide and 8 percent were by homicide.
  • The 2021 suicide rate by all methods in Vermont was 20.3 per 100,000 persons, compared to a national rate of 14.0 per 100,000 persons. Suicide among Vermont men and boys is 50 percent higher than the national average.
  • In 2021, the number of suicides in Vermont was 142, with 83 of them completed by firearm, or 58 percent. 
  • Children are 4.4 times more likely to die by suicide in a home with a firearm compared to a home without a firearm.

A 2014 State of Vermont report finds that education, not prohibition, is the most effective way to reduce suicide by gun, Vermont Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs President Chris Bradley told House Human Services before it approved the bill by a 7-3 vote. 

“This [2014 VT Dept. of Mental Health] research finds that to decrease firearm deaths by suicide the immediate focus must be on recognizing that saving the lives of gun owners is a conversation and a cause that must be shifted from firearm legislation to mental health promotion, and to communities, families and networks of friends and peers,” Bradley quoted from the study.

VTFSC supports and promotes safe gun storage, Bradley said. However, laws requiring lockups have been found unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court, Bradley told Human Services Feb. 21.

It’s an argument Bradley will surely make, in more detail, to House Judiciary, which focuses less on health outcomes and more on matters of criminal law. 

“In the 2008 case of DC v. Heller, the Supreme Court struckdown a law which required that Firearms must be made inoperable or locked up, as these actions did not allow the use of that firearm for self-defense situations. Simply put: It is unconstitutional to force citizens to lock up their firearms, but they can voluntarily do so with education, guidance and easy access to low-cost or free locking mechanisms. It may even be worthwhile to establish a grant program for relatively inexpensive biometric locking devices,” Bradley said. 

H230 flatly states its purpose: reducing suicide by reducing access to firearms.

“The purpose of this legislation is to prevent death by suicide by reducing access to lethal means of firearms. Although there are many other methods forcompleting suicide, firearms are unique in their ability to create instantaneous and irreversible outcomes. Nearly every other commonly used method for suicide has a high survivability rate. It is extremely rare for someone to survive a suicide attempt in which a firearm is used. This fact, combined with the high prevalence of firearms in Vermont, is why this method alone is being addressed by this bill.”

In practice, H230 would:

Criminalize failure to safely secure a firearm in a home where children (under age 18) could reasonably be expected to access an unsecured firearm. A sentence of up to five years could be imposed if death results from a child accessing the unsecured firearm. 

Require signs at gun dealers notifying potential buyers about the law. 

Allow a family or household member to ask a judge for an extreme risk protection order (ERPO), with or without notice to the respondent, prohibiting a person from purchasing, possessing, or receiving a dangerous weapon or having a dangerous weapon within the person’s custody or control. At present, only criminal justice authorities may seek ERPOs.

Impose a 72-hour waiting period on any firearms sale or transfer, following completion of the federal background check on the buyer. 

Scheduled to testify on H.230 9 AM Wednesday are:

  • Rep. Alyssa Black, Co-sponsor
  • Erik FitzPatrick, Legislative Counsel, Office of Legislative Counsel
  • Alison Shih, Counsel, Everytown for Gun Safety
  • Chris Bradley, President, VT Federation of Sportsman Club
  • Eric Davis, President, Gun Owners of Vermont
  • Billy Clark, Litigation Attorney, Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence – Invited
  • Timothy Lueders-Dumont, Legislative & Asst. Appellate Attorney, Vermont Department of State’s Attorneys and Sheriffs
  • Rory Thibault, State’s Attorney, Washington County
  • Rebecca Turner, Supervising Attorney, Appellate Division, Office of the Defender General
  • Judge Thomas Zonay, Chief Superior Judge, Vermont Judiciary

H314, prohibits firearms and deadly weapons in schools and on all school property, will be reviewed, discussed, and possibly voted 3 pm Wednesday in House Education. The bill would impose a flat ban on firearms possession on all school property, not just in buildings or on school buses, as now required by law. Introduced Feb. 22 by Rep. Kate McCann (D-Montpelier), it has not yet been reviewed by any committee. 

Schedule for All Vermont Legislature Committees this week: Click on Committee name for Zoom links. Agenda listings top-line only, not inclusive. Click here to see the complete weekly schedule of all committees on one page. Click here for list of all committees and links to their bills, members and contact information. 

House Agriculture, Food Resiliency, and Forestry

23-0761 – An act relating to miscellaneous agricultural subjects

H. 205 – An act relating to establishing the Small Farm Diversification and Transition Program

Vermont Housing and Conservation Board

House Appropriations

FY24 Budget

H. 145 – An act relating to fiscal year 2023 budget adjustments

House Commerce and Economic Development

H. 10 – Create VEGI oversight board

FY24 Budget

House Corrections and Institutions

Governor’s FY24 – FY25 Capital Budget Proposal

H. 102 – Amends the Art in State Buildings Program

Governor’s Recommended FY 2024 State Budget

House Education

PCB Testing in Schools

H. 314 – Bans deadly weapons on school property, excepting law enforcement

23-0927 – Establishes strategic goals and reporting requirements for the Vermont State Colleges

23-0910 – Eligibility of approved independent schools to receive public tuition

House Environment and Energy

H. 126 – 50% of all Vermont land in conservation by 2050

H. 158 – Expands the beverage container redemption system

House General and Housing

H. 276 – Creates a rental housing registry

Disability Awareness Day

H. 157 – Vermont basic needs budget

House Government Operations and Military Affairs

H. 270 – Further deregulates and legalizes cannabis

23-0705 – Miscellaneous changes to election laws

H. 251 – Issuance of a Brady letter, misconduct under jurisdiction of the Vermont Criminal Justice Council

H. 125 – Revises rules for various boards and commissions

23-0659 – An act relating to technical corrections for the 2023 legislative session

23-0959 – An act relating to the Vermont Criminal Justice Council Recommendations Bill

House Health Care

H. 282 – Adopts the Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact

H. 283 -Expands suicide-prevention funding, services

H. 206 – Vermont Health Access changes, Medicaid dental coverage

Governor’s Proposed FY2024 Budget

House Human Services

Governor’s Proposed FY2024 Budget

H. 222 – Expands legal med-assisted treatment for opioid addiction

H. 94 – Reach Up

H. 171 – Amends adult protective services

House Judiciary

H. 40 – Makes contraceptive tampering a crime

H. 288 – Reduces liability for sale of alcohol to intoxicated persons

H. 22 – Sexual exploitation by police

H. 27 – Coercive controlling behavior basis for abuse order

H. 230 – Reduce suicide by reducing “access to lethal means”

House Natural Resources, Fish & Wildlife

Not yet published

House Transportation

Governor’s Proposed FY2024 Budget

H. 101 – Reducing transportation carbon emissions

23-0157 – Transportation Program and miscellaneous changes to laws related to transportation

House Ways and Means

H. 127 – Legalize sports betting

H. 66 – Mandated family and medical leave insurance

H. 217 – An act relating to miscellaneous workers’ compensation amendments

H. 165 – An act relating to school food programs and universal school meals

Senate Agriculture

23-0138 – Protection from nuisance suits against farming

23-0760 – An act relating to miscellaneous agricultural subjects

Task Force to Revitalize the Vermont Dairy Industry Report

Senate Appropriations

S. 5 – “Affordable Heat Act”

FY24 Budget

Senate Economic Development, Housing, and General Affairs

S. 19 – Tobacco prohibitions

S. 49 – Enhances genetic and consumer health information privacy

S. 73 – Makes cancers eligible for firemens’ workers comp. coverage

Senate Education

23-0951 – An act relating to school construction

23-0756 – An act relating to school safety

23-0909 – Miscellaneous changes to education law

Senate Finance

S. 83 – Allows State education property tax to be used for infrastructure

S. 93 – Repeals tax exemptions for advanced wood boilers

S. 65 – Requires commercial insurance to cover epinephrine auto-injectors

S. 68 – Expands tax deduction for student loan payments

S. 60 – Authorizes municipal adoption of local option taxes

S. 95 – Various amendments to banking and insurance laws

S. 99 – Makes miscellaneous changes to vehicle laws

S. 35 – Hartford’s infrastructure financing

S. 63 – Medicaid cover three rounds of in-vitro fertilization

Senate Government Operations

Emergency Response Communications

S. 32 – Ranked-choice voting for presidential primary elections

S. 17 – Sheriff reforms

S. 104 – Designates August 31 as Overdose Awareness Day

S. 39 – Legislators’ pay and benefits

S. 78 – Establishes establishes rights for temporary State employees

S. 42 – Prohibits State retirement systems from investing in fossil fuels

Senate Health and Welfare

Green Mountain Care Board

S. 37 – Protections for abortion and gender-reassignment

S. 56 – Public preschool and other childcare, education changes

S. 18 – Flavored-tobacco ban

S. 36 – Permits arrest without a warrant

S. 47 – Transport of individuals to psychiatric care

Senate Institutions

Governor’s FY24 – FY25 Capital Budget Proposal

State House Expansion

Senate Judiciary

S. 4 – Violent crime reduction for juveniles through gun control

S. 14 – Justice expenditure reporting

S. 27 – Reducing usage of cash bails 

S. 33 – Miscellaneous Judiciary procedures

S. 16 – Repealing legal exceptions for clergy

S. 89 – Establishes a forensic facility, allows involuntary psych treatment

Senate Natural Resources and Energy

S. 100 – Attempts to address severe housing shortages

Senate Transportation

S. 64 – Regulates loud exhaust, idling, child restraints. Bike lanes required

S. 48 – Regulating sale of catalytic converters

S. 77 – Charges GPS navigation providers for drivers violating Smugglers’ Notch winter closure

Mileage Based User Fee Program Proposal

Categories: Legislation

25 replies »

  1. Does anybody else see anything duplicitous in a legislature that promotes “Death With Dignity” but wants you to lock up your guns under the guise of suicide prevention ?

    • If you peruse the arguments made during the Death With Dignity legislation, they cite privacy, autonomy, deeply personal choices etc. The hypocrisy is glaring.

    • The state allows provisions for a person to self medicate into death. They also now allow a person from out of state to come to VT to die, and to get an abortion. Welcome to VT.

      .We used to say, welcome to VT, now go home. Now it is come to VT to die. Just don’t do it by firearm.

  2. The data regarding on all the other factors regarding suicide is generally excluded, the amount of prescription overdoses and suicides administered by a flawed medical system promoted by the medical industrial complex is probably statistically higher, suicide by cops is also irreversible, and unfortunate suicides by dozens of other sources, etc.. most mental health therapist have there own mental health issues and the lack of alternative resources and professionals are currently limited.
    More and more schemes continue to impose and restrict rights and liberties all across the board.
    Its excessive, bills, bills and more bills and ironically adding more bills ($) higher taxes and fees. Such continued extreme progressive radical decisions that continue to plague our state will have severe impacts, this is an authoritarian like governance that continues to create a vicious cycle that will continue to hurt the lower and middle class.

  3. Gun free zones are shooting galleries. These Legislators are willfully complicit in endangering every Student, Faculty and Staff member in VT schools.
    They learned nothing from the called in threats a couple weeks ago.
    Instead of proactively protecting Schools they brag about their response time.

    Every School in VT must have the following ;
    Armed and Trained Security Personnel and Faculty.
    Metal Detectors at the entrance.
    Locked, secured entrances and exits.

    The people trying to ignore the Constitutions of VT and America are far more concerned about spreading fear and lies than actually protecting anyone.

      • VT received an obscene amount of plandemic money that Scott used to Blackmail School districts with High Jab Rates and shut down Churches. ( while withholding money from Schools where the Parents actually protected their children. Completely unconstitutional, but there is no justice in VT because almost no one steps up )
        I don’t know if any of that money is left.
        Who is paying for the illegal and unconstitutional Bills the Legislature is forcing on VT ?
        If the question is fund this or keep putting children at risk what is your choice ?

  4. A 72 hour waiting period is as infringing on your right to self defense as is banning the ownership of said firearm, in the same, exact way that requiring firearms to be locked up infringes. Preventing access is disarming. If you know that your life is likely to be threatened, you have every right to buy that firearm when you need it, not three days prior. You have a right to keep, and bear arms, and in the state of Vermont that includes for personal self defense. Period.

    The suicide prevention thing is an entirely disingenuous argument, as others have mentioned. How many guns were purchased and used for suicide within three days? Or would have been demonstratively prevented by being locked up? I’d like an exact number. And then I’d like to ask why these people were suicidal in the first place, because I bet there’s some other changes to law and policy that would do far more to prevent suicide than these dumb, feel-good gun bills.

  5. Instead of trying to find the cause of so many suicides in Vermont, these overlords should just pass a law to make suicide illegal. Isn’t that what they do and believe another law will take care of the problem. In a state that has passed laws allowing for the termination of healthy babies up to nine months, our legislative parents are all concerned about self-inflicted death by gun.

    In a state that has passed a law to assist people to end their lives with dignity, these overlords are concerned about those who choose a gun to end their life instead of a doctor.

    In a state that promotes an experimental, untested gene therapy drug and insists that children should be jabbed knowing that across the country young people are dying from heart failure, these adult nannies go after the population for their failures at addressing the poor state of mental health in Vermont.

    A thinking person would question whether this is concern for the victims of suicide or is it another play on gun control? If you look at who’s slated to testify, one can see the top gun control organizations will testify to push for more gun control, explicitly in the face of a Supreme Court ruling against the forced lock up of firearms in private homes.

    How would this law be enforced without home inspections which violate the fourth and 14th amendment, not to mention the Vermont constitutional laws also forbidding such laws. This is another unconstitutional law proposed by the progressive ideology that forces people to live under their control and compliance with punishment if you fail to live as they mandate. Does anyone see that these people will not solve any suicidal decision because removing a gun does not remove the problem of the lack of mental health that caused the problem to begin with.

    • Dano just presented the solution ; Make Suicide illegal. After all making it illegal has a 100% success rate.
      There are no longer any drivers in VT texting and driving.
      There are no more Drunk or chemically impaired drivers on the road.
      There are no longer any Speeders on our roads.
      There are no illegal drugs in VT.
      There are no longer any litterers along our Highways.

      Unfortunately there are people in the Legislature that continually violate their Oath of Office. ( Actually illegal, it is perjury )
      Maybe they self identify as legitimate ?

      • Of course, and people no longer idle their cars for more than 5 minutes even when sitting at a drive through fast food joined for 20 mins. in line to order.
        People are no longer throwing food in the trash where it belongs.
        People are no longer buying marijuana on the street now that the state can sell it to you and tax the s–t out of it.
        All of these worthless laws go unenforced and are only designed to justify the representative’s existence, stroke their egos and give them a sense of feeling good about themselves like saving the world from the speck of land on the surface of the earth.

  6. “ Suicide among Vermont men and boys is 50 percent higher than the national average.”
    Hmmm…one would think our “woke” legislators would be reveling in these numbers. In an “inherently racist state” like VT losing white supremacist (and most likely “mysogynist” males at a 50% higher rate than the rest of the nation, shouldn’t that be celebrated by the enlightened, wealthy, white, elite, smarter and better than us legislators? I’m confused, but what else would you expect from a white, racist, ignorant, (alleged) boomer male like me???

  7. I was a correction officer for 20 years. We were told in training classes that if a person really wants to commit suicide there is no way to stop them. They will find a way to do it. Guns, drugs or other poisons, hanging.

    • …and part of the strategy for helping is separating those who really want to do it from those uttering a “cry for help”. Those who have made up their mind and are sure about it use a gun, and for good reason. It’s not the State’s business to interfere…isn’t that what the “death with dignity” legislation reasoned? The federal government’s open border policy letting in pounds of fentanyl certainly is facilitating suicides…although some may be unintentional.

  8. Vermont’s goal is to keep writing bills & passing them that they know full well are unconstitutional in the hopes that no attorney or group within this very small state would proceed with a suit VT knows they will ultimately lose. In the meanwhile, they’ll keep on passing whatever bill which will stay as long as no one challenges it.

    They are political pawns playing this game with unending amounts of tax dollar moneys! And they possess NO shame.

    • The solution to unconstitutional laws is not to obey them they carry no weight of law. They are null and void as though they were never passed.

      “An unconstitutional act is not law; it confers no rights; it imposes no duties; affords no protection; it creates no office; it in legal contemplation, as inoperative as though it has never been passed”. Norton vs Shelby County 1886 – 118 US 425 p.442.

      “All laws which are repugnant to the Constitution are null and void”.
      Marbury vs Madison, 5 US (2 Cranch) 137, 174, 176, (1803)

  9. Do these legislators know know transing children makes them much more likely to attempt suicide. Maybe stop pushing that ideology in schools??

  10. This proposal does nothing except further limit access to very effective “death with dignity” for poor Vermonters without health insurance who lack access to their own personal Dr Kavorkians… the contradiction here is huge.
    With the exception of children, I don’t think the government should be concerned with an adult who chooses to end their own life. It’s a free country. In fact, more miserable people here should.

  11. Hmm, of the three people I know personally who have “succeeded” in suicide ( I hate using that word but,) pills, pills and aphyxiation by car exhaust. Two of which were legal gun owners. Stop trying to act like you care Montpellier, you don’t. But it makes anyone who advocates against this legislation look heartless, so they win there too.

  12. One way to address the waiting time and concerns about emotionally disturbed gun buyers is to only allow a purchase with a meaningful waiting period OR a co-signer. A co-signer on an otherwise legal purchase (clean background, etc) would be liable for any action of the purchaser with the weapon for a reasonable period. I’d have no problem cosigning for a hunting buddy whose rifle jammed with an 8-pointer in his sights, but I would pass on doing so with a recently separated co-worker and advise he get counselling.

  13. I’d bet they can’t produce one single report showing someone went out, bought a gun and then used it within 3 days to eliminate themselves. — this whole idea is much like banning plastic bags because somehow they all go to the one landfill in Vermont, and then were getting from the one landfill in Vermont to the oceans…