S.4 AN ACT RELATING TO PROCEDURES INVOLVING FIREARMS
in the State House of Representatives
on March 17, 2022, by a vote of
Purpose: After Governor Scott threatened a veto of S.30, the Senate drafted and passed 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 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 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 House Journal, Thursday, March 17, 2022: “Shall the bill be read a third time?, Rep. LaClair of Barre Town demanded the Yeas and Nays, which demand was sustained by the Constitutional number. The Clerk proceeded to call the roll and the question, Shall the bill be read a third time?, was decided in the affirmative. Yeas, 90. Nays, 42." (Read the Journal, p. 673-675).
Watch the floor debate on Youtube.
Roll Call! Senate Bans Guns in Hospitals, Lengthens “Default Proceed” Check by 4 days (23-7), 2022
How They Voted
(Click on your Rep’s name to send an email)
Sally Achey (R - Middletown Springs) – NO
Paul Lefebvre (R – Newark) – NO
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