Gun rights activists gave away 1,200 free high capacity magazines at a rally outside Vermont State House to protest new legislation that would ban them and introduce a series of other control measures.
Hundreds of demonstrators turned out on Saturday to urge Republican Governor Phil Scott not to sign the gun restrictions bill a day after it was passed by the state legislature.
The legislation would ban the 30-round magazines and rapid-fire devices known as bump stocks, in addition to raising the legal age. It would also expand background checks for private gun sales.
Gun rights activists handed out the 30-round magazines as they called on Vermont Governor Phil Scott to veto a gun control bill after it was signed by the state legislature
Scott acknowledged that many Vermonters would be disappointed by the vote but said he would sign off the measures despite opposing them himself as recently as two months ago.
‘I share it. I know why they are disappointed,’ Scott said. ‘But I think at the end of the day, they’ll soon learn that what we have proposed, what’s being passed at this time, doesn’t intrude upon the Second Amendment.
‘It doesn’t take away guns, and I believe that we will get accustomed to the new normal, which is trying to address this underlying violence that we are seeing across the nation.’
Public opinion in the Vermont has been affected by the arrest of a teenager on charges he was planning a shooting at the Fair Haven Union High School, which he once attended.
Hundreds of demonstrators turned out on Saturday with many wearing orange hunting caps and coats
The arrest was made just a day after the shooting at Parkland High School in Florida, which killed 17 people, with tragedy only being averted because a friend of the teenager alerted authorities.
In one day, Scott, who had previously said he did not favor any gun restrictions, changed his mind and urged lawmakers to act.
About 2,500 students and supporters rallied in front of the Vermont Statehouse last weekend as part of the national ‘March for our Lives’ movement.
But for the past several weeks, gun-rights supporters, many wearing hunter orange vests or hats, have filled the halls of the Statehouse showing their opposition to gun restrictions.
Gun control opponents wearing hunter orange pack the gallery in the Vermont House of Representatives on Tuesday March 27
The 17-13 Senate vote on Friday came after an emotional debate in which lawmakers from the largely rural state spoke of the centuries-old traditions that allow people who live far from the nearest police station to keep weapons as a means of self-defense.
Others countered that the modern reality of mass shootings demanded change.
Democratic Sen. John Rodgers, of Glover, an area known as Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, argued for a version of the bill with fewer restrictions on guns.
‘The soil of the Kingdom is in my blood and a fair amount of my blood is in that soil,’ he said. ‘And because of the way I grew up, I feel dedicated to protecting that area.’
But Democratic and Progressive Sen. Philip Baruth, from Burlington, said the violence and mass shootings require change.
‘Our attitudes are changing,’ he said. ‘And they are changing for a very, very good reason.’
Bert Saldi, left, of Barre, Vt., stands with another protester who wouldn’t give his name, outside the Vermont Statehouse on Tuesday