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Legislative Review: Sen. Claire Ayer pledges to review proposed gun law

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Posted on February 5, 2015 |
By Sen. Claire Ayer



Ayer.jpg
SEN. CLAIRE AYER

OPINION:

What about the gun bill, S.31?

There’s been some speculation on Front Porch Forum regarding my motives for co-sponsoring a bill that does three things: It puts Vermont in compliance with the federal law that requires Vermont to enter into a federal database (1) the names of certain violent felons and (2) the names of persons who have been judged in a court of law to be a danger to themselves or others. The third thing it does is require a background check during the sale of all weapons, while allowing for family members to gift guns to each other.

Currently 40 percent of gun sales take place outside of gun shops, where background checks are routinely performed. The background check usually takes a few minutes and costs $15-$35 in Vermont.

The most frequent questions I’ve heard are as follows:

1-Why are you sponsoring this bill?

2-What is your position on it?

3-How will this happen?

1. For 12-plus years, I’ve been getting requests from constituents to take up a bill that will reduce the likelihood that a person will commit violence with a gun. In 2014, I received hundreds of requests on both sides of the issue and it’s time the Legislature discusses the issue and makes a decision.

Our priorities in the Senate remain the economy, education taxes, climate change, child protection and healthcare in no particular order. Nevertheless, the gun discussion has risen by virtue of the number of Addison County and state residents who request it. We listen to the people and will take it up.

2. My committee, Health and Welfare, will look at the medical aspects of the bill. Is there data that proves that certain persons diagnosed to be a danger to themselves or others and then confirmed in a court of law are more likely to commit gun violence? We will ask for facts, not emotion, and have invited folks on both side of the issue to testify. If the conclusion is yes, we will vote whether or not to recommend compliance with federal law. We will also take testimony as to whether or not background checks improve public health/safety. Here again, we will look at data.

I am a gun owner and would be a hunter if I had more time. I’ll listen to the facts before I vote.

3. We will hold a public hearing on the evening of Feb. 10 (next Tuesday) with the Senate Judiciary Committee. Committee testimony will take place around that date and I will schedule a full morning around the medical aspects of it. The remainder of the bill will be taken up in Senate Judiciary. If it passes out of Judiciary, it will be taken up by the entire Senate. If it passes the Senate, it will go through the same process in the House.

Sen. Claire Ayer represents Addison County, Huntington and Buel’s Gore, she is assistant majority leader, and she chairs the Senate Health and Welfare Committee.

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