After Second Marathon Debate, House OKs Historic Gun Restrictions

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A bill that generated hours of hours of debate on far-reaching changes to the state’s gun laws cleared the House on Tuesday and is now heading back to the Senate, where its fate is unclear.

The legislation widens background checks to the private sales of firearms, raises the age to purchase a gun to 21, bans bump stocks, and sets a limit on magazine size.

It was passed after a grinding day that spread into night, full of moving parts on that legislation as well as other gun-related measures working their way through the Statehouse.

The House approved a third and final reading of S.55 by a vote of 89-54 after a debate that began around 2:30 p.m and stretched six hours to about 8:30 p.m.

The House Judiciary Committee started taking up the measure even earlier, around 9:30 a.m., as they considered a batch of proposed amendments to the legislation.

The full House gave preliminary approval to the legislation following 10 hours of debate on Friday. The debate Tuesday made a few more changes to the legislation.

The Senate passed S.55 earlier this month. However, that version of the legislation did not include two provisions passed in the House: the bump stocks ban and the magazine size limit.

Rep. Patrick Brennan, R-Colchester, said as the debate drew to a close he understood the youth movement pushing for added gun restrictions, but that the bill “does nothing whatsoever” to enhance school safety and security.

“I sympathize with the movement that’s out there, (the) students, I’m not unsympathetic to how they feel, but they’re walking around and talking about an issue they absolutely know nothing about, other than that they’re afraid, I get that,” he said.

“They’re talking about repealing the Second Amendment — ‘the Second Amendment is outdated, it’s obsolete,’” Brennan added. “These are kids who don’t even take civic classes in school because they’re not offered. They know nothing about the Second Amendment or the Constitution, that worries me.”

Rep. Martin LaLonde, D-South Burlington, a prime backer of the legislation, countered that he understood that the bill wasn’t going to solve all gun-related problems.

“But this bill does help us accomplish two goals,” he said. “It’s going to help keep firearms out of individuals who are dangerous to themselves or others, and it’s going to reduce the lethality of firearms. … I do believe this puts us in the right direction.”

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