Vt. Legislature gives final approval to gun restrictions

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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) The Vermont Senate on Friday signed off on sweeping new gun restrictions and Gov. Phil Scott says he'll sign it. Our Neal Goswami was at the Statehouse for the historic vote.

The governor was clear Friday-- the new restrictions will become law.

"I have every intention of signing it," said Scott, R-Vermont.

It was just six weeks ago when a teen was arrested, accused of plotting a school shooting in Fair Haven. Scott says that shook him and he expressed support for new gun restrictions. Lawmakers got to work and the effort has moved quickly, with lots of media attention.

The new measures raise the legal purchasing age to 21, expand background checks to private sales, ban bump stocks and set limits on how many bullets magazines can hold.

But not everyone thinks the new restrictions are the appropriate response. Some see the Vermont they've known slipping away, like Sen. John Rodgers who says new Vermonters have different ideals.

"I think maybe if we pass this bill, maybe it is over. Maybe the Vermont I grew up in is over and it changed," said Rodgers, D-Essex/Orleans counties.

For Rodgers and others, the ban on high-capacity magazines goes too far and hinders the rights of Vermonters who want weapons for self-defense. They believe it violates constitutional rights and makes law-abiding citizens less safe.

"I don't believe S.55 does one single thing to keep Vermonters safe," Rodgers said.

But others say the measures will help. Magazines with 10 rounds rather than 30 could provide more time for victims to find safety or take down a shooter.

"That pause gives students and teachers precious seconds to further protect themselves," said Sen. Alison Clarkson, D-Windsor County.

The governor says practices changed after 9/11 and they must change now.

"What's being passed at this point doesn't intrude upon the Second Amendment, it doesn't take away their guns and I believe that we will get accustomed to the new normal," Scott said.

The governor says he plans to sign the bill after it is reviewed by lawyers for the Legislature and his administration.