S.4 AN ACT RELATING TO PROCEDURES INVOLVING FIREARMS
in the State Senate
on March 11, 2022, by a vote of
Purpose: After Governor Scott threatened a veto of S.30, the Senate drafted S.4, which addresses Scott’s concern that the 30 days waiting period in S.30 is too long for a firearm applicant to wait in limbo.
The bill keeps all of the other language in S.30: making it a crime to intentionally carry a gun into a hospital, lengthening the “default proceed” period for firearms background checks, and obligating 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 7 days. While most federal background checks are instant, federal law gives the FBI 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 more than doubles the default proceed from 3 days to 7 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. 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 7-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, Friday, March 11, 2022: “Thereupon, the bill was read the second time by title only pursuant to Rule 43, the recommendation of amendment was agreed to, and third reading of the bill was ordered, on a roll call, Yeas 23, Nays 7.… (Read the Journal, p. 270–275).”
Watch the floor debate on Youtube.
Roll Call! Senate Bans Guns in Hospitals, Lengthens “Default Proceed” Check, Limits Doctor-Patient Privacy (21-9), 2022
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) – YES
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) – YES
Jeanette White (D-Windham) – YES
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