News Briefs
May 14, 2015

Statistics on gun safety, gun ownership, recently proposed legislation and the decline of hunting revenue in Vermont

A stray bullet from a high power rifle can extend over 2.5 miles; up to 1 mile for a .22 rim-fire rifle.

A stray bullet killed an unsuspecting Vermonter in his home in 2008. Joseph McCarthy, of Essex. was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for the stray-bullet death of a St. Michael’s College professor and neighbor John Reiss. Reiss was shot while he was sitting down to dinner in his home by a stray bullet from a backyard firing range.

Vermont has one of the highest percentages of licensed hunters in the lower 48 states, according to Evan Hughes, Vice-President-NRA Foundation Projects of the Vermont Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs. However, popularity of hunting seems to be decreasing steadily. Sales from hunting licenses reached an all-time high of $155,090 in 1974. In 2014, the state received only $70,371. (See chart.)

The Vermont Fish & Wildlife does not have data on the membership of fish and game clubs, but based on anecdotal evidence and other trends from hunting, John Hall, VF&W information manager, “expects many of them may be in decline.”

42 percent of all households in Vermont have firearms, according to most credible sources. Some  peg the percentage closer to 75, but that is likely due to averaging whereas, in reality, those that own guns typically own many — they are not equally divided among households.

In just four states — Vermont, Arizona, Wyoming and Alaska — gun owners are allowed to carry concealed handguns without a permit.

H.150 is a bill proposed Feb. 2015 to repeal the prohibition on the sale or use of gun silencers. It was read in the House, then referred to the committee on General, Housing & Military Affairs.

S.141 is a bill designed to keep guns away from dangerous criminals and people with severe mental illness. Governor Peter Shumlin signed it into law May 1.

It is illegal to discharge a firearm in Rutland City, Essex, Burlington and many other cities with dense populations, with the exception of law enforement.

A report this year from the Pew Research Center found that for the first time in nearly two decades, a majority of Americans favor the protection of gun rights over expanded gun control and believe firearms help prevent being a victim of crime, according to related news reports. “The survey shows 52 percent of respondents saw gun rights as more important than controlling gun ownership, up from 45 percent in 2012. Additionally, 57 percent of respondents said guns help prevent becoming a victim of crime, up from 48 percent in 2012,” according to an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

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