Gun control laws have been in flux recently. In 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment establishes a personal right to possess a firearm for lawful purposes. Since then, federal and state gun control laws have faced legal challenges. Congress and state legislatures have also debated a new wave of gun-related legislation.
While state gun control laws differ in their detail, there are some common features. Purchasing and possessing firearms for self-defense or recreational purposes is normally legal. Using a gun to commit a crime or carrying one in restricted spaces (schools, courthouses, prisons, etc.) is universally prohibited. Vermont’s gun control laws are permissive when it comes to lawful use but severe when guns are connected with criminal activity. Here's a quick overview.
Gun Control in Vermont
Vermont's state constitution guarantees people the “right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the state.” A “sportsmen’s bill of rights” further protects using firearms for recreational purposes. There are no permitting, registration, magazine restrictions, or licensing requirements in the state either.
That's not to say Vermont has no restrictions on guns. Retailers and pawnbrokers must keep records of revolver and pistol sales and it’s illegal to have a gun on school property or in a courthouse without authorization. Doctors and hospitals must also report cases of gunshot wounds and gun-related injuries to law enforcement. But that’s pretty much it. Vermont is one of the least restrictive states in the union when it comes to gun control.
Unlawful activity is a different matter. Vermont makes it a crime to carry a dangerous weapon with the intent to injure someone. Using a gun to commit a felony or firing a gun while aiming it at someone are offenses too. Negligent use of a firearm can earn you up to five years in prison. There are also prohibitions on selling or furnishing guns to minors under the age of sixteen without parental permission. Finally, making or using a silencer is prohibited and punishable by a (small) fine. We should point out that federal laws severely punish firearm-related crimes (especially those involving convicted felons).
The following table provides a quick summary of Vermont gun control laws:
|Code Sections||Tit. 13 §§ 4001, et seq.|
|Illegal Arms||Silencer, “zip” gun, weapons of mass destruction.|
|Who May Not Own a Gun||Children under sixteen years of age without parental permission.|
|Law Prohibiting Firearms On or Near School Grounds||Yes.|
Related Resources for Gun Control Laws
State gun control laws are subject to change. You can find more information about gun laws and related topics such as self-defense and stand your ground laws here. Anyone with more specific questions related to a particular case might consider contacting either a Vermont criminal lawyer or a gun-safety or advocacy group.
Contact a qualified attorney.