Roll Call! Senate Bans Guns in Hospitals, Lengthens “Default Proceed” Check, Limits Doctor-Patient Privacy (21-9), 2022


in the State Senate
on February 3, 2022 by a vote of

Purpose: The bill makes it a crime to intentionally carry a gun into a hospital, lengthens the “default proceed” period for firearms background checks, and obligates healthcare providers to report patient “threats” to law enforcement.

Individuals who “knowingly possess a firearm” inside a hospital may be fined up to $250, in addition to any crimes they may commit with a gun inside the hospital.

It would also lengthen the time some Vermont firearm applicants would need to purchase a firearm to 30 days. While most federal background checks are instant, federal law gives the FBI has up to 3 days to investigate a prospective applicant. If the FBI doesn’t greenlight or flag the buyer to the seller of the gun within 3 days (which is the case in 3% of cases in Vermont), the transaction receives a “default proceed.” This allows the buyer to purchase the firearm. This amendment would lengthen the default proceed from 3 days to 30 days.

The bill also 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. It authorizes data collection of extreme risk protection orders each year and lastly, it allows out of state firearm owners to bring high capacity firearms for competitions into Vermont legally.

Analysis: Those voting YES believe this will protect victims of domestic abuse, hospital workers and patients undergoing treatment. Carrying firearms in “sensitive places” is not a constitutional right, quoting Justice Antonin Scalia in DC vs. Heller (2008). Firearms are already banned in courtrooms and schools, so hospitals are a natural extension of that logic.

Those voting NO believe the bill is a solution in search of a problem. It does not rise to a level of just cause to remove rights, enshrined in the US and Vermont constitutions. Individuals’ due process rights are necessarily limited by the 30-day background check provision. All Vermont hospitals already have “a right to eject” individuals carrying firearms. This bill will not deter “anyone with nefarious intent… (due to) this new crime that we'd be creating.” The concept of banning firearms from a “sensitive place” creates a “soft target,” is dangerously vague, and would set a precedent that could be expanded to include almost anywhere people gather.

As Recorded in the Senate Journal, Thursday, February 4, 2022: “Thereupon, the question, Shall the Senate concur in the House proposal of amendment with further proposal of amendment?, was decided in the affirmative on a roll call, Yeas 21, Nays 9. Senator Ingalls having demanded the yeas and nays… (Read the Journal, p.130–135).

Watch the floor debate on Youtube.

How They Voted

Becca Balint (D-Windham) – YES
Philip Baruth (D-Chittenden) – YES
Joe Benning (R-Caledonia) – NO
Christopher Bray (D-Addison) – YES
Randy Brock (R-Franklin) – NO
Brian Campion (D-Bennington) – YES
Thomas Chittenden (D-Chittenden) – YES
Alison Clarkson (D-Windsor) – YES
Brian Collamore (R-Rutland) – NO
Ann Cummings (D-Washington) – YES
Ruth Hardy (D-Addison) – YES
Cheryl Hooker (D-Rutland) – YES
Russ Ingalls (R-Essex-Orleans) – NO
M. Jane Kitchel (D-Caledonia) – YES
Virginia Lyons (D-Chittenden) – YES
Mark MacDonald (D-Orange) – YES
Richard Mazza (D-Chittenden-Grand Isle) – NO
Richard McCormack (D-Windsor) – YES
Alice Nitka (D-Windsor District) – YES
Corey Parent (R-Franklin) – NO
Chris Pearson (P-Chittenden) – YES
Andrew Perchlik (D-Washington) – YES
Anthony Pollina (P/D-Washington) – YES
Kesha Ram (D-Chittenden) – YES
Richard Sears (D-Bennington) – YES
Michael Sirotkin (D-Chittenden) – YES
Robert Starr (D-Essex-Orleans) – NO
Joshua Terenzini (R-Rutland) –NO
Richard Westman (R-Lamoille) – NO
Jeanette White (D-Windham) – YES

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