Vermont governor signs new gun restrictions into law
Vermont governor signs new gun restrictions into law

[JURIST] Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin [official website] on Friday signed into law a bill that creates new restrictions on who may own guns in the state of Vermont. Under the new law, which will go into effect July 1, people with certain criminal convictions will be prohibited from possessing a gun. Those who violate this restriction will be subject to state prosecution [AP report]. The law also calls for state courts to report findings of mental illness to a federal registry. Those deemed unfit for gun ownership and added to the registry would have their rights restored once recovered from mental illness. While an earlier version of the bill would have expanded requirements for background checks for private gun sales, this provision was eliminated from the final draft. The governor previously said that he did not see a need for new state gun restrictions but stated Friday that the new bill made common sense changes that met his approval, which drove him to sign it. He said in an official statement [statement] that Vermonters knew that he felt that Vermont’s gun laws made sense for the state and that they in Vermont “have a culture of using guns to care for and manage [their] natural resources in a respectful way that has served [them] well.”

Gun control has been the center of attention since the Newtown, Connecticut, shooting in December 2012. Last December the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled [JURIST report] that a law prohibiting individuals who have been committed to a mental institution for any amount of time from possessing a firearm is unconstitutional under the Second Amendment. This court was the first to strike down a federal gun law under the Second Amendment since the Supreme Court [official website] effectively struck down [opinion] Washington, DC’s ban on firearm ownership six years ago. However, mass shootings in Colorado, Connecticut and elsewhere have spurred some state legislatures to create and adopt gun control laws. In August a federal judge for the US District Court for the District of Maryland [official website] upheld [JURIST report] portions of Maryland’s gun control law, which banned certain types of “assault weapons” and a limited gun magazines to 10 rounds, explaining that the law served a legitimate government interest of ensuring public safety. In June a judge for the US District Court for the District of Colorado [official website] upheld [JURIST report] two Colorado statutes that expanded mandatory background checks and banned high capacity magazines.