On April 22, 2015

Gun bill wins final approval

By Erin Mansfield, VTDigger.org

The Vermont House gave final approval to a gun bill Friday, April 17, that proponents say will keep firearms out of the hands of many violent felons and from certain people with severe mental illness.

S.141 passed 80-62. If the governor signs the bill, Vermont will be the last state in the nation to make gun possession by certain violent criminals a state-level crime.

Final approval followed a short recess to address a technical amendment and a series of personal stories from lawmakers seeking to prevent gun violence, including Rep. Sam Young, D-Glover, whose mentally ill brother committed suicide with a gun.

Opponents said the bill was an infringement of Second Amendment rights spawned by millions of dollars of alleged outside funding from special interest groups backed by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The Senate passed an earlier version of S.141 in a 20-8 vote last month. The Senate must approve the House changes or a conference committee will be appointed to hammer out the details.

The House version eliminates the 18-month waiting period for people who have recovered from severe mental illness to petition to regain their gun ownership rights.

The bill makes possession of a gun a state-level misdemeanor crime for people convicted of aggravated stalking; aggravated domestic assault in the first or second degree; murder; manslaughter; assault and robbery with a dangerous weapon; unlawful restraint; kidnapping; and several other “listed crimes.”

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