Gov. Phil Scott has five days to decide whether Vermont will become the 10th state in the country to have a waiting period for gun purchases.
Legislation that would create a 24-hour waiting period for handgun purchases arrived on Scott’s desk Tuesday. Scott said Wednesday morning that he still hasn’t decided whether he’ll sign the bill, veto it or allow it to become law without his signature.
Supporters of the legislation say the 24-hour waiting period would reduce suicide rates in Vermont by preventing impulsive acts of self-harm. Scott said he wants to corroborate that claim before making a decision on the bill, and will be “reaching out to the Health Department to get some data, if there’s any that exists.”
Last year, Scott signed a suite of controversial gun bills into law. His decision to support universal background checks, a ban on high-capacity magazines and raising the legal age to purchase a firearm won him praise from gun control advocates.
That good will could come undone, however, if Scott decides to veto waiting period legislation that passed both the House and Senate this year.
“Well I will be very disappointed in him, and so will most of our members,” Clai Lasher-Sommers, head of GunSense Vermont, said Wednesday.
Opponents of the legislation say there’s little data to support the claim that a 24-hour waiting period would reduce suicide rates in the state. They also say the legislation is an undue restriction on Vermonter’s constitutional right to bear arms.
Reached Wednesday, Chris Bradley — the president of the Vermont Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs — said he had no comment on the legislation, other than to say that Scott knows where his members on the bill.