Parents of suicide victim: Veto of Vermont handgun waiting period ‘cowardly’

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The parents of a Vermont man who died by suicide said it was “cowardly” of Gov. Phil Scott to veto a bill that would have created a 24-hour waiting period for handgun purchases.

Rob and Alyssa Black’s son, Andrew, was found dead December 6 at his home in Essex. They said he shot himself hours after legally purchasing a handgun. On Wednesday, they vowed to continue pushing for the mandatory waiting period.

“Our goal all along has been, we don’t want some other couple standing, freezing, outside their house while someone turns to them and says, ‘We found a deceased male in an upstairs bedroom,'” Alyssa Black said.

Scott vetoed the Senate Bill 169 on Tuesday, saying it wouldn’t address the “underlying causes of violence and suicide.” In a letter to lawmakers, he asked them to help “strengthen Vermont’s mental health system, reduce adverse childhood experiences, combat addiction and provide every Vermonter with hope and economic opportunity.”

Rob Black said he’s certain a bill mandating a waiting period will eventually pass in Vermont and that he and Alyssa “will keep at it until it does.”

In the months following Andrew’s death, the Blacks gave emotional testimony to House and Senate committees in support of the waiting period. They said lawmakers on both sides of the aisle gave them an enormous amount of support.

“He couldn’t make the hard decision,” Rob Black said of Scott. “To me, it was just a very cowardly thing to do.”

Alyssa Black said Scott was rewarded by Vermonters for the gun safety measures he signed last year. That legislation included mandatory background checks, extreme risk protection orders and increasing the age to buy a firearm from 18 to 21.

But, with his veto of a mandatory waiting period,  she said Scott has turned his back on that progress.

“He listened to all the same evidence and research and experts and made the determination that he wasn’t willing to do that, that he did enough a year ago,” Alyssa said.

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