Vermont gov vetoes creating 24-hour wait period for handguns

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MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont's Republican governor vetoed legislation Monday that would have established a 24-hour waiting period to buy handguns, a move that came about a year after the state imposed its first significant gun ownership restrictions following what police say was a near-miss school shooting.

Gov. Phil Scott had said in recent weeks that he hadn't made up his mind about the waiting-period bill.

Last year, Scott, a gun owner, who had previously said he felt Vermont's gun laws were sufficient, changed his mind and signed restrictions into law.

The move came after police arrested a teenager the day after the Parkland, Florida, high school shooting that left 17 people dead. Police said they stopped Jack Sawyer's planned shooting at Fair Haven Union High School.

Scott invoked the previous bill in explaining his veto Monday.

"Last year, I called for and signed a package of historic gun safety reforms because I believe they make schools, communities, families and individuals safer, while upholding Vermonters' constitutional rights," he said.

"With these measures in place, we must now prioritize strategies that address the underlying causes of violence and suicide. I do not believe S.169 addresses these areas," he added, referring to the waiting-period bill by its official number.

Proponents say the legislation would have helped save lives by people who are considering taking their own lives with firearms because they won't be able to get them as quickly. It was also hoped it would prevent homicides.

Opponents say the legislation would have further infringed on gun owners' rights, which are guaranteed by the constitutions of both the United States and Vermont and it won't accomplish the desired goal

When Scott signed last year's gun restrictions, he was in front of a crowd of supporters and people who were calling him a traitor.

While the debate around this year's bill was less emotional than last year's, some supporters of the waiting-period were deeply disappointed.

"While we know this bill would not save everyone, by disrupting access to the most lethal method, it would have saved some," Rob and Alyssa Black, the parents of a 23-year-old man who killed himself with a gun he'd bought the same day, wrote in an emailed statement after the veto. "This bill would have saved our son, it could have saved yours."

The Blacks have been vocal advocates for changing the state's gun laws, including in their son's obituary.

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