in the State House of Representatives
on January 27, 2022, by a vote of
Purpose: The underlying bill makes it a crime to intentionally carry a gun into a hospital, with punishment ranging from 1 year in prison and/or a fine of $1000.
The Notte Amendment would lengthen the time some Vermont firearm applicants would need to purchase a firearm to 30 days. The federal Brady Bill requires that a firearm applicant’s name go through the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to purchase a firearm. While most background checks are instant, the FBI has up to 3 days to investigate a prospective applicant. If the FBI doesn’t flag the buyer to the seller of the gun within 3 days, the transaction receives a “default proceed,” allowing the buyer to purchase the firearm. This amendment would lengthen the default proceed from 3 days to 30 days. 3% of gun purchases in Vermont take longer than 3 days.
The amendment contains 3 other less controversial items: 1) it clarifies that a healthcare provider may report to law enforcement if they think a patient poses a serious health risk to themselves or the public, 2) it authorizes data collection of extreme risk protection orders each year and 3) it allows out of state firearm owners to bring high capacity firearms for competitions into Vermont legally.
Analysis: Those voting YES believe this amended bill could “potentially save lives.” It gives healthcare providers the opportunity share concerns about the applicant. In 2020-21, Vermont law enforcement tried to take back 28 firearms from firearm purchasers. These individuals received a “default proceed” to purchase after waiting 3 days with no word from the FBI, and then failed their background check afterword. 9 of these 28 firearms were not retrieved. Proponents of the amendment believe adding 27 days would have prevented most of these dangerous police retrievals. 19 other states have a “default proceed” of at least 30 days. The most common reason for a delay in a background check was a domestic violence claim, which takes at around 10 days to be cleared up.
Some of those voting NO believe the amendment caused the bill to morph a straightforward hospital gun ban in the Senate, to a multi-purpose gun bill which limits freedom in a dozen ways. They may have been willing to support a smaller jump in “default proceed,” but going from 3 days to 30 days is extreme. Since failed background checks have a shelf life of 30 days, the applicant could be caught in an “endless cycle” of re-applying. Individuals sharing a name with a criminal are especially vulnerable to having their right to bear arms endlessly delayed. Opponents of the amendment me care about what other states do. The term “knowingly possess a firearm in a hospital” is left to the discretion of law enforcement. Others voting NO believe the underlying bill doesn’t go far enough, since smaller “urgent care facilities” are not included.
As Recorded in the House Journal, Thursday, January 27, 2022: “Shall the House propose to the Senate to amend the bill as recommended by the Committee on Judiciary?, was decided in the affirmative. Yeas, 97. Nays, 49” (Read the Journal, p. 155 – 158).
Watch the floor debate on YouTube.
How They Voted
(Click on your Rep’s name to view their Roll Call Profile)
Sally Achey (R - Middletown Springs) – NO
William Lippert (D – Hinesburg) – YES
Curtis McCormack (D – Burlington) – YES
Kirk White (P/D - Bethel) – YES
Rebecca White (D – Hartford) – YES
Dane Whitman (D - Bennington) – YES
Terri Lynn Williams (R - Granby) – NO
Theresa Wood (D – Waterbury) – YES
David Yacovone (D – Morristown) – YES
Michael Yantachka (D – Charlotte) – YES