Expanding access to safe storage sites

Published: Jan. 29, 2023 at 6:42 AM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - There’s a renewed emphasis on a firearms storage program in Vermont.

“This is a program that keeps people safe, and makes sure that guns are stored safely,” said Vermont Attorney General Charity Clark,

The Firearms Storage Program is used when an individual is ordered to give up their guns temporarily because of a relief from abuse order or extreme risk protection order. That’s something Attorney General Clark says can be impactful in strengthening safety for those experiencing domestic or sexual violence.

“In Vermont, there are 40,000 victims of sexual and domestic violence every year. That is a huge number and we know that when firearms are in the home, the risk for death increases,” Clark said.

Under the new program, Parro’s Gun Shop in Waterbury will serve as one of the eight Federal Firearms Licensees, or FFLs, that can safely store a person’s guns.

“The people who are giving up their firearms need a safe, secure place, and somebody with some passion for firearms, not just think of them as a commodity and through them in a broom closet,” said Henry Parro, the owner of Parro’s Gun Shop.

Parro’s joins the list of other sites throughout the state, including Green Mountain Sporting Goods, Hawk Hill Guns and Tackle, J Stone and Son Transport, AGC Arms, R & L Archery, Rowland W. Hubbard Jr., and Vermont Field Sports.

Guidelines from the Department of Public Safety include taking photos and keeping a record of the firearm, having a vault with at least 10,000 possible combinations, and ensuring guns are returned in the same condition as when they arrived.

Parro says they must also abide by federal laws when taking in or giving a gun back. “Once they come in, they go into our federal books, and when we receive the court order saying everything is okay and you can release them, then the person will do a background check,” he said.

For Attorney General Clark, addressing domestic violence is a top priority, and this program is a step in that direction. “It’s really important that people experiencing domestic violence know that we see them, and we’re trying to help,” Clark says. “Sometimes they do feel overlooked, and we don’t want that. I’m so grateful this program exists and can make the relief from abuse order process more smooth and more effective.”

Attorney General Clark says if someone is experiencing a mental health crisis, or even if young children are visiting, safe storage sites will also take guns voluntarily.