Vt. lawmakers grapple with gun control

Published: Feb. 27, 2018 at 5:36 PM EST
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Will Vermont lawmakers meet the governor's demand to pass a bill by Town Meeting Day that looks to keep guns away from dangerous people?

Meeting the request from Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vermont, will require lawmakers to move at breakneck speed. The Senate takes up

Wednesday. It creates a court process for seizing firearms and weapons from people deemed a danger to themselves or others. Three gun rights groups have backed the legislation. It's expected to sail through the Senate.

The House prefers its own bill-- one the governor also wants-- that allows cops to seize guns from domestic abusers for up to five days. House Judiciary Chairwoman Maxine Grad says her committee plans to advance a bill to the House floor this week, even as House and Senate leaders work on their differences.

"I think we could move it out of committee. We realize it's a very important bill," said Grad, D-Moretown.

The question is whether it's possible for the House to get it across the finish line by Friday. House Speaker Mitzi Johnson is optimistic.

"I think it still could be," said Johnson, D-Vt. House Speaker.

Any path forward requires Republicans to help fast-track the bill by suspending House rules. Despite the governor's support, House Minority Leader Don Turner says it's unclear how many in his caucus will help.

"The governor asked for it. Many of us work closely with the governor and I'll do my part to try to make that happen," said Turner, R-Minority Leader.

Johnson said the public wants action from Montpelier, so lawmakers must act.

"Because the landscape has shifted so dramatically in a week, Vermonters that I never heard from before are speaking up and saying gun safety is a critical issue for us," Johnson said.