Gov. Phil Scott of Vermont has allowed a bill that requires a 72-hour waiting period for the purchase of guns to become law without his signature, saying he feels his concerns about the provision’s constitutionality will be addressed through the courts.
The Legislature passed the bill in May. In addition to the waiting period, it includes provisions aimed at reducing suicides and community violence.
Scott said he’d allow the bill to become law without his signature and “await the judicial branch to decide the fate of waiting periods.”
“Given the relatively new legal landscape we find ourselves in following recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions, I have significant concerns about the provision’s constitutionality,” Scott said in a letter to state lawmakers on Thursday. “My struggle with the overall bill lies in the fact that I, and all legislators, took an oath to ‘not do any act or thing injurious to the constitution.
“However, this matter is currently being taken up through constitutional legal tests across the country and will be decided in federal court,” he wrote.
The legislation also creates a crime of negligent firearms storage and expands the state’s extreme risk protection orders so that a state’s attorney, the attorney general’s office or a family or household member may ask a court to prohibit a person from purchasing, possessing or receiving a dangerous weapon.
One of those provisions now makes negligent firearm storage a crime under state law. The other concerns extreme-risk protection orders, under which weapons can be removed from someone deemed by a judge to be at high risk of harming themselves or others.
A county-level state’s attorney and the Vermont Attorney General’s Office can now ask a judge for such an order, as can a family member or a household member. Previously, only police could do so.
“This bill has come a long way,” Scott said. “It started as something I could not support, but after a lot of time and effort from various parties, it ended in a better place, where I support two out of the three major provisions.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.