Scott not convinced waiting period solution to suicide scourge

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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) Governor Phil Scott is defending his veto of a 24-hour waiting period for handgun purchases.

The Republican vetoed the bill Monday, and has received plenty of criticism for his action. He told reporters Wednesday that he doesn't think the waiting period for handguns alone would be effective and says he's open to additional gun restrictions in the future if he's convinced they'll work.

The governor's veto caught many off guard. "Absolutely surprised. Clearly, we think the governor made the proper choice," said Chris Bradley with the Vermont Federation of Sportsman's Clubs.

Rob and Alyssa Black were surprised, too. But they called the governor's action cowardly. They pushed for a waiting period after their son's suicide last December. Scott Wednesday said he understands their sentiments. "I certainly understand their disappointment, their anger, their grief, the pain. I can't imagine, as a father of two girls, what I would be going through if I was in their position," Scott said.

Scott says he shares the Blacks' desire to reduce suicides and gun violence, but doesn't believe the bill he rejected will work. "I'm not convinced a 24-hour waiting period for handguns alone will do that," he said.

While the Blacks and other waiting period advocates insist it will save lives, Scott says the data he saw didn't prove it. "I have no way of knowing that," Scott said.

Scott signed three bills last year that included new gun restrictions, including mandatory background checks, banning large capacity magazines and raising the legal purchasing age to 21. He says he's done more to prevent gun violence than any previous Vermont governor, and he's willing to do more, if it will work. "I'm looking for something that's effective, some data to back it up. I would like to see if what we did is effective, and I'll consider and be open-minded to anything," he said.

For now, gun rights advocates are happy with the governor's action. "I think he's spot on that it's wishful thinking that this is gonna make any, or a similar bill -- 48 hours, 72 hours, all guns, just pistols -- are gonna make any difference at all," Bradley said.

Scott says the Community Violence Prevention Task Force he created last year has delivered a report to him, but he's withholding its contents until he reviews it. He says it suggests some new gun restrictions, but not a waiting period.