Vermont bill that would remove firearms from alleged abusers sparks debate

Local News

MONTPELIER, Vt. – Vermont lawmakers heard from the public on Tuesday regarding a bill aimed at protecting victims of domestic abuse.

The bill, H.610, would require a provision to be included in relief from abuse orders that the alleged abuser give up their guns until the order expires.

While some found it sensible, others saw it as a breach of Second Amendment rights.

“This bill is just another step towards taking guns away from Vermonters,” said Daniel Thompson of Barre. “I think it’s really about the government trying to cotnrol the people more than anything else.”

Should the legislation pass, a court would also be allowed to issue a warrant to seize any firearms from alleged abusers. Dozens spoke during Monday’s testimony session both for and against the bill.

“Why request a relief from abuse order if your abuser is not only likely to become more enraged as a result, but also maintain their access to a gun?” asked Skylar Wolfe.

Alternatively, Tabatha Armstrong argued that the bill would extend beyond alleged abusers and apply to a larger population of gun owners.

“We keep hearing from this committee that you’re not coming after our traditions, you’re not coming after our rights to bear arms, but by saying police can choose who can be dangerous and not have a firearm without trial, that’s exactly what you’re doing,” Armstrong said.

People stood outside the full House Chambers in orange T-shirts that read ‘Stop New-Yorking My Vermont Gun Rights,’ which were also prominent last session as lawmakers considered a 48-hour waiting period for firearm purchases.

Among those in support of the bill was Kate Root, a friend of Courtney Gaboriault, who was shot and killed by her ex-boyfriend in Barre two years ago.

“It’s not about removing the rights of law-abiding citizens, it’s not a way to create a loophole so citizens can disarm people they don’t like on a whim, that is ridiculous,” Root said. “A relief-from-abuse order is not obtained lightly or easily. The bill would remove a highly lethal object from the hands of those capable of enacting violence.”

Monday was the only scheduled public hearing, and the bill could be heading for a vote in the House Judiciary Committee later this week.

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