MONTPELIER, VT - A new bill would call for universal background checks on gun sales.
"I know how lucky I was to survive, it doesn't always turn out that way," said Pamela Simmons, a domestic and gun violence survivor at Tuesday’s press conference.
Parents, lawmakers, and advocates packed the Vermont Statehouse in support of universal background checks on gun purchases.
"Right now gun sales are treated differently depending on where the gun is purchased," said Ann Braden, President of Gun Sense Vermont.
This bill would expand background checks to private firearm sales. It would make exceptions for law enforcement, active military and immediate family.
"If you purchased a gun at a gun store you go through a background check, if you purchase a gun through an unlicensed seller, from an online private sale or from an auction or a flee market, you don't. This loophole makes it too easy for a criminal to buy a gun," said Braden.
Evan Hughes, Vice President of the Vermont Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs says this is not how criminals get their arms on firearms.
"Criminals don't want to buy firearms with defective parts. If they want to get a firearm what they will do is get a clean record to go get exactly the gun they want from a dealer."
Hughes says the background check comes at a cost.
“First off the people in the transaction are going to have to find an FFL willing to do a transfer. Then they’re going to have to pay for the fee.”
He says universal background checks are an unnecessary measure for interested gun owners.
"Year after year we have the lowest violent crime rate in the nation," said Hughes.
On Tuesday Sen. Phil Baruth, relaying what he often hears from opponents of universal background checks, said "the number one talking point that you will hear is that there is no problem with gun violence in Vermont, we're the first or second safest state therefore there is no need to for this."
A co-sponsor of the bill and parent, Sen. Baruth says the need and support for sensible gun control in Vermont is visible.
"If there's no problem ask them why are doing those [active shooter] drills in high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools, and ask them if it is their organization's' agenda to eliminate those?" says Sen. Baruth, (D) Chittenden.
Universal background checks were removed from a gun bill before it was passed in 2015.
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