Vermont lawmakers weigh 48-hour gun purchase waiting period

MONTPELIER — The Senate Judiciary Committee is considering a controversial waiting period for gun purchases after parents of a suicide victim faced off against gun-rights advocates late last week in emotional public testimony.

S.22, sponsored by state Sen. Philip Baruth, D/P-Chittenden, would require a 48-hour waiting period for anyone purchasing a gun. It also includes stricter safe storage requirements.

Michael Bielawski/TNR

LOST THEIR SON: Rob and Alyssa Black speak to the Senate Judiciary Committee in support of a 48-hour waiting period for gun purchases. The couple lost their son to suicide in December.

On Thursday, Senate lawmakers heard testimony from Rob and Alyssa Black, the parents of Andrew Black, who died from a gun suicide on Dec. 6, 2018, at his home in Essex. The still-grieving couple urged the committee to impose a waiting period as a means of thwarting other potential suicides.

Alyssa Black said they didn’t think their son was depressed, but instead may have had a severe reaction to something on social media.

“It was an overwhelming reaction to a disappointing event in life,” she said.

Rob Black said it appeared that his son purchased a gun from a gun store in the morning and died hours later, around 4 p.m. in the afternoon. Messages on Andrew Black’s phone reveal the distress and anguish he felt at the time.

“Reading through his phone messages to the last day, you could almost sense the doubt in what he was about to do,” the father told committee members.

Sen. Dick Sears, D-Bennington and chair of the committee, asked if delaying the purchase might have helped. Alyssa Black answered that she believed it could have saved her son’s life.

“It would have given him time to come out of it,” she said. “It was a fleeting two-day-long self-pity fest. We absolutely believe if there had been a waiting period he would not have done it. … The only reason anyone needs a gun within 48 hours is if they are gonna hurt themselves or someone else.”

Sears asked if the gun shop owner had any idea their son was about to use it for suicide. The parents said the owner had no suspicions.

“He had a story behind why he was buying the gun,” Alyssa Black said. ” … There were absolutely no signs.”

Gun Owners of Vermont President Ed Cutler, an advocate for gun rights, spoke next. He said there are only three instances of a person walking into a gun shop and committing suicide afterward in the past 20 years. In one of those three cases, more than 48 hours had passed between the purchase and the suicide.

Cutler said a waiting period could harm a different set gun buyers — those who need to purchase a gun quickly for self-defense purposes.

“If a woman is being stalked by an abusive stalker, that waiting period could be the difference between life and death,” he said.

He said data shows the initial hours after a relief-from-abuse order is the most dangerous time for violence to occur.

In addition to human threats, Cutler said dangerous animals are another serious threat in Vermont. “Rabies is a serious problem in this state,” he said.

He added that two-thirds of gun purchases are by those who already own a gun, making a 48-hour wait meaningless in such cases.

Bill Moore, policy analyst for the Vermont Traditions Coalition, also spoke against the bill.

“My main concern is there are people who are not meant to be a target of this bill who will be impacted by the required waiting period,” he said. “You can use your imagination as to who those people might be.”

Sen. Jeanette White, D-Windham, asked if existing gun owners could be exempted from the waiting period.

“Is that something that seems workable?” she asked.

Moore said it was an unlikely solution since it would require creating and maintaining a list of all gun owners, something highly frowned upon by pro-Second Amendment groups.

UVM Medical Center pediatric intensivist Rebecca Bell spoke next, but in support of S.22. She said Vermont has a high suicide rate despite relatively low suicide attempts. She argued that high gun ownership is the culprit.

“Even though they are attempting at a lower rate, they are dying at a higher rate because the method is more lethal,” she said.

She said when it comes to suicide with guns, it tends to be more impulsive because it’s a quick and easy action. She said those people who choose other methods such as ingesting lethal substances tend to be more seriously depressed and they think it out more.

“Both this waiting period and the safe storage [component] for me really combine to address some of this impulsivity and suicides for young people in Vermont,” Bell concluded.

Chris Bradley, president of the Vermont Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, spoke last.

“We believe it is an honest attempt — it is, in effect, an effort to save someone from themselves,” he said.

He described the debate as “the right to self-defense versus the intent to save a life.”

In this case, he favors the right to self-defense.

“According to the Vermont Judiciary Annual Statistical Report for 2018, there were 3,380 relief from abuse filings in 2018, which was an increase of 8 percent from 2017,” Bradley said. “Those RFA filings, which become court orders, in these cases represent situations where a victim is able to convince a court that they are in a real threat of bodily injury or even death threats.”

He continued that in these cases of extreme danger, the last thing people need is restrictions on their ability to obtain a means of self-defense.

Bradley, Moore, and Cutler all were against the safe storage provisions of the bill. Moore called it impossible to enforce and said it creates bizarre situations where simply leaving your bedside to use the bathroom could result in a violation of the law if you leave your gun behind.

The Black family was indifferent to the safe storage requirement in the bill, preferring instead to focus on delays that might save lives.

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North Reports. Send him news tips at bielawski82@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

Image courtesy of Michael Bielawski/TNR

27 thoughts on “Vermont lawmakers weigh 48-hour gun purchase waiting period

  1. There is NOTHING that speaks more loudly and plainly to what is happening here.

    This interview with Paul Joseph Watson during a visit to Austin, Texas should make it abundantly clear that the problems we face stem from “infiltrators” from the contaminated states such as Kalifornia.
    https://www.infowars.com/watch/?video=5c802b7a96f802002664d975

    Jones, whose program has originated from Austin since its inception, speaks of a plan to evacuate due to the smothering overall corrupting influence of the Kalifornicators. What more convincing evidence of the blight is required?

    • I think that a interview with Bill Whittle,If you’re not familiar with Bill Whittle’s Firewall series,here is a link https://www.billwhittle.com/

      I think in his interview he cover some of the topics that Jones discusses although I think from a constitutional angle,the steady progression of states,county,city breakdown and the chaos it will lead to.

      It’s a Trap! 2nd Amendment Sanctuaries Threaten Gun Rights

      • He’s gained some facial fullness since I last viewed any of his stuff. But still argues the constitutional view–with which I entirely agree. Jones spreads himself thin covering a broad spectrum of topics and tends to approach boiling point much of the time.

        Not to get into “Dueling YouTubes”, but this short one from Steve Crowder reveals our very own Blustering Bernie at his deceptive best:

        • Steven “Louder With Crowder” is one of my favorites and this number would be at the top of my Crowder hit parade,I’m serious as scurvy.

  2. The implementation of a waiting period to transfer a firearm is an unnecessary piece of legislation NOT based on real life historical data in Vermont. One, I repeat, one event in 2018 has become the catalyst for the same anti-gun crowd to take advantage of an unfortunate incident to push their ever burgeoning agenda.

    There were 41,550 gun transfers in 2018 in Vermont as determined from the FBI NICS data base. One purchaser took his own life within hours after procuring a firearm. That is .0024% of all gun transfers. Each transfer went through an FBI background check. 99.9976% of all 2018 transfers would not have benefited by the proposed waiting period specified in S.22. Based on this empirical data a waiting period that will impact 40,000 plus legitimate annual purchases cannot be justified regardless of the tragedy of this one event. This is the age old cliché of a “solution looking for a problem”.

    We are not requiring “breathalyzers” on every car because a few miscreants drive while intoxicated. We don’t punish everyone for the misdeeds of a few. Why are guns any different? Far more people are killed by drunk drivers than from guns.

    As I hear the “majority party” in the Legislature rail about fossil fuels, the need for hybrid vehicles, solar power, more public transportation, reducing wear and tear on our roads, etc., we then hear these same people wanting to add a second trip (waiting period) to the gun store for each purchase. Based on 2018 data, that would be over 83,000 trips to a dealer by Vermonters to purchase 41,550 firearms. Many local gun stores cannot carry the inventory for all brands, configurations, calibers, vintage, etc., so gun buyers may have to travel long distances to find the firearm they want to purchase. Personally I have traveled from Colchester to Rutland, Newport, Lyndon, Highgate, Waterbury, Barre, Hardwick, Bradford, etc. to make a purchase. To retrace my steps to pick up a purchase several days later, that would be required by the waiting period (worst case, up to 200 miles extra), fly’s in the face of the green initiative, and with no justifiable benefit. Legislators are talking out of both sides of their mouths.

    If you look at studies done by unbiased entities, such as Johns Hopkins, U.C. Davis, Georgetown, Duke, Univ. of Cincinnati, AZ State and the CDC, their bottom line assessment over the years is that waiting periods have no measurable effect on crime or suicides.

    As far as requirements to secure guns anytime it/they are not under your absolute personal control is also unneeded and unenforceable legislation. Vermont’s safety record for accidental discharges and deaths is stellar; zero, year after year. To enforce such a law, authorities would have to enter a residence or a vehicle with a warrant to “catch” someone who has left a firearm “unsecured”. What would be the justification for such a warrant? Criminals could not care less, so this bill is aimed at every one of Vermont’s responsible 100,000 gun owners. If guns are stolen, the State would have to prove that the guns were not secured, an argument that will be of diminishing returns, and my guess, not pursued. How soon our lawmakers forget two milestone Supreme Court decisions; Heller and McDonald. They need to go back and read those very closely!

    These bills are the same ones being introduced in Legislatures across the country. Doesn’t it seem amazing that the same bills, the same verbiage, the same arguments can all of a sudden end up on the numerous Legislative calendars? That is because they are not extraneous or the result of some epiphany or even a lottery. They are part of a well-planned and coordinated agenda led by devout anti-gun organizations i.e. Bloomberg, GIffords, Brady, Gun Sense Vermont, etc. who want to control all aspects of guns and gun ownership.

    If we are honest with ourselves, we will admit that mental illness and illegal drug usage are the primary causes of suicides and crime. We must address the systemic reason for suicides, not side step the matter and once again pass some “feel good legislation” that is meaningless to reduce crime and suicides overall. It isn’t going to be easy, but that is what you each legislator signed up for; to be effective law makers!

    You need think long and hard before supporting “another gun bill” that further erodes our 2nd amendment, and article 16 gun rights under the Vermont Constitution, rights that we are guaranteed will not be “infringed” upon as Vermonters and U.S. citizens.

  3. Bradley, Moore and Cutler, understanding and defending the constitution. Using the system, logic, compassion for fellow man in an effort to find the truth.

    There is a problem of two systems clashing. As Mitzi stated in the signing of the law, “It’s a great day for Democracy”. It’s not a mistake for many when they call our country a democracy, it’s their intent and it’s epically evil.

    https://youtu.be/VogzExP3qhI

    When our legislators behold to mob rule over constitutional republic, we face the problems we currently find ourselves. Our education system is so poor, our students and teachers see no issue, they see no problems in the taking of liberty and playing with the age of majority. This is plainly written our in the handbook. The Kennedy Democrat has been silenced and a new generation educated in the ways of social justice, a common plan for subversion of a free and just society to a socialist cesspool like Venezuela

    Sadly a quick look onto suicide sites will tell you all we need to do in the prevention of suicide, because there is a goal, my guess is many don’t even know about on the progressive side, any means justifies the end….it’s again written in the hand book for God’s sake.

    You can tell a tree by it’s fruit. This fruit we’re given is rotten, it’s not seeking the truth, it’s not going by the rule of law, it’s not protecting the liberties of free and just people. Make no mistake this fruit is from the tree of socialism, known my many names of social justice, communism, Marxism, oligarchy, dictatorship…..the transition to this is Democracy, the unripen fruit of the above mentioned, vastly inferior forms of government than our beloved constitutional republic.

    • Excellent presentation video, Neil. Recommended viewing for those who require clarification of what we’re up against.
      It will be an uphill battle..

  4. What ever happened to “Sticks and Stones my break my bones but Names will Never Hurt ME”. Any law should be against social media not gun rights. Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.

    This complete over reach by the Fascist legislature FOR one family’s grief is unbelievable until you
    realize it’s an excuse to implement their plan of disarmament or another step in disarming of the citizens.

    I (as a 3rd gen VTer and USMC VietVet) decree this is the hill worth dying on. NO MORE Complying
    with the Fascist leftist laws. The makers of these laws should be certified unqualified to make laws
    on the citizen if their making them on Feelings, and that’s exactly what this issue is…

  5. As stated “The family refuses to reveal details of Andrew’s state of mind or what lead to his suicide.”
    There are uncountable situations wherein there’s conflict between parents and their kids within the family. How well did the Blacks really know about their son? They won’t say so it’s questionable. Does showing up for a Legislative hearing ease their minds to what they think is a huge gun problem? The kid could have used a rope. There are horror stories about family strife and some kids run away.

    I question the whole matter. I raised two nice kids, family oriented and no drugs and they like women. I showed them how to handle guns and haven’t shot anyone. I could keep a gun in the house without fear of them committing any harm or crime. It’s how you raise them for responsibility. Their kids have the same attitude. It’s responsibility, you brought them into the world, raise them right.

    No waiting period is justified. Another “feel good-do something” attitude by Baruth et al. No common sense.

  6. Alyssa Black said they didn’t think their son was depressed, but instead may have had a severe reaction to something on social media.

    So why don’t they pass a law:

    1. You can’t be on Social Media unless you are 21 years of age.
    2. Background check to make sure you are psychologically stable to use Social Media.
    3. A 48 Hour waiting period to purchase a smart phone.

    “THOSE THAT WOULD SACRIFICE LIBERTY FOR SECURITY DESERVE NEITHER”

    Ben Franklin

  7. Every gun control measure like this one puts restrictions on responsible gun owners and encourages the illegal firearm market.

    • The wise ones who crafted the Second Amendment would not have deemed ANY firearms to be “illegal”. They would, however, have been strongly opposed to any ILLEGAL USE of said firearms.

      To obviate illegal use would also mean the elimination of any incentives for such use. Impossible.

    • I’ll go on the record and declare I have no illegal firearms – but I may have several that are merely ‘undocumented’, and they’re going to stay that way.

  8. As an American citizen and a Navy Veteran with over 24 years of active duty service, I am not a fan of collective punishment. Although I’ve been subjected to it, I detested it and never – not once – attempted to impose it on those who worked for me during my time serving my country. The mere thought that our Legislature in the State of Vermont is debating imposing it on me again thoroughly disgusts me.

    I’m unsure as to the ultimate goal of this particular session in Montpelier – are they hell-bent on making criminals of us all? I admit, with some trepidation, that I no longer care what new unconstitutional law they pass. I Will Not Blindly Obey. As far as I’m concerned, they’ve violated the oath they swore to We The People. Don’t Tread On Me Anymore.

    • Seth

      Your sentiment of not obeying,reminded me of a article I read Saturday,of the good people of Maryland and a similar experience of some of their states politicos want to infringe on their 2 nd. amendment rights.

      They as a group were wearing most appropriate tee shirts en mass to the hearing,We Will Not Comply,wonder if the elected office holders are starting to get the picture.

      Maryland Gun Owners Vow They Will Not Comply, Gun-Grabbers and Legislators Freak Out

      Picket: said,We have been staging “We Will Not Comply” demonstrations at the Maryland State Capitol all this past week, and have occupied ALL the seats in day-long hearings on gun bills. This is what Democracy looks like.

      https://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/page/2/

      • To compliment your post, 4 democratically controlled state’s sheriffs are not complying with any more gun control. There is a national movement in the works that is going to put a stop to the violations of peoples natural rights especially self protection and preservation of the life of self and loved ones.

        https://conservativefiringline.com/gun-sanctuary-movement-spreads-in-four-states-dem-majorities-miffed/

        As stated previously, storage laws pertaining to firearms have already been deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, 1st in the Heller decision 2007 then again in the McDonald decision 2010. Further, a search warrant is needed to enter a home. A search warrant must describe the possible crime being committed, the location to be searched and the fruits of the crime as in firearms. Now, how many judges are going to provide those search warrants based on someones word that a firearm is not locked up? How many police officers must be put a risk to enforce such a law? What kind of reaction can the police expect from citizens while invading their homes with tactics used in totalitarian countries? Legislators who are willing to continue to take the rights of citizens must also be willing to accept the consequences of their actions. They all need to revisit their oaths of office.

  9. Psychologists and psychiatrists assess whether a person is suicidal, a danger to themselves, based on whether the person has a detailed plan to kill themselves and the means with which to accomplish it. Neither, by itself, is sufficient. The person is questioned in depth. Saying they’re going to shoot themselves is not an indicator of suicidal risk, unless their plan includes, for example, the particular firearm they’re planning to use, where, when and how they’re planning to use it, alone or with others, have they discussed their plan with anyone. They must also have means: access to a firearm, a combination to a safe, access to ammunition, money to purchase a firearm and/or ammunition, etc. Secondary gain is also assessed, who else will be affected by the suicide, who will be harmed, what statement is being made, what message is being sent, if any.

    It is exceedingly rare for a person to commit suicide without first having made detailed plans. They may put a plan on hold, then pick it back up at a later time, but it does not come to fruition without planning and consideration. Mandating a waiting period by law, before the purchase of a firearm, is placing a requirement the suicide has already met. It’s not a deterrent. The suicide accomplishes their goal, if not now, then later. Those not truly suicidal do not die, also deliberately.

    The proposed waiting period legislation will impact ONLY law abiding Vermonters and would not be expected to reduce suicides!

    In the tragic case of Andrew Black and his family who ask in Andrew’s obituary for “cooling off” legislation to prevent suicide, there are many questions and few facts known.

    https://vtdigger.org/2018/12/21/parents-calling-gun-waiting-period-say-efforts-wont-end-obituary/

    it is understandable the family would like some good to come from their loss. The question is whether any good would come from their request. We know imposing a waiting period in firearm purchasing puts some people at risk, those at risk of imminent deadly violence would be prevented from meaningful and effective self defense mechanisms. Further, they’d lose the deterrent effect of firearm possession, often effective without having to fire a shot.

    The family refuses to reveal details of Andrew’s state of mind or what lead to his suicide. However, without analyzing these and many other currently unexplored factors, one can not understand what might have prompted this young man to take his life nor what measures might have reduced the chance of that happening. The grieving family is in pain, may feel some guilt, and is using the power and broad scope of Statewide legislation and media attention to self soothe.

    Included in the analysis would be the question of why Andrew chose to use a firearm? He spent considerable money to purchase the hand gun he used to kill himself, instead of choosing a method which was without additional financial expenditure. His father had firearms in the family home, locked. What is the connection, if any? He brought the weapon into and killed himself in the family home. This makes a very big statement! He left no explanatory note. These are meaningful pieces to the picture. The family understands some of the picture, but will not share with the public. Instead, they wish to impose restrictions on all Vermonters, though Andrew’s case may be specific only to himself and his family. There may be no valid generalization that can be drawn from his actions which are applicable to anyone else. Without a forensic psychological examination of Andrew’s behavior, statements, social media writings, notes, conversations, etc, we’re just guessing. That’s not a basis for writing restrictive anti-selfdefense legislation.

    Neither the case of Andrew Black, nor suicide data, provide a compelling reason to knowingly endanger those at imminent risk of lethal danger by preventing them from purchasing self defense firearms at the time of need and requiring an intentional delay of several days! I encourage you to reconsider the wisdom of this legislation as it is likely to do harm but very unlikely to do any good.

    • ” The grieving family is in pain, may feel some guilt, and is using the power and broad scope of Statewide legislation and media attention to self soothe.”

      Unfortunately they ,the Blacks want to self sooth,ease their pain ,their guilt at their loss of their loved one at the cost of Vermonters rights and of course they found a legislator that is only too willing to violate Vermonters rights.

      The legislator as evidenced by former bills and this flagrant violation of constitutional rights,shows his lack of candor and the oaths he swore to said constitutions.

    • Thanks, Doc, for condensing the facts omitted from or diffused in the various media coverage. Your post focused attention on what has been simmering in my mind, and in the minds of others, to be sure.

      “The family refuses to reveal details of Andrew’s state of mind or what lead to his suicide. However, without analyzing these and many other currently unexplored factors, one can not understand what might have prompted this young man to take his life nor what measures might have reduced the chance of that happening. The grieving family is in pain, may feel some guilt, and is using the power and broad scope of Statewide legislation and media attention to self soothe.”

      While empathizing with the pain and grief of the family at their loss, the validity of and justification for a further restriction upon the rights of so many others must be considered, especially when so many relevant facts have been omitted from the discussion. Certainly any observations regarding the state of mind of the deceased prior to the event that were not acted upon figure heavily in this equation, especially as to whether those actions may have had bearing on the outcome. Perhaps that is the source of all this latent guilt..

  10. Perhaps conservatives in Montpelier could bring up and present families that have been saved (including harm) prior to voting for gun control. The NRA has many such instances. The dems are playing on emotion, let the Conservatives also play on emotion and reality. Most killings (and those that are about to do so) are by those with emotional and physiological problems.

    So, make VT like Hitler’s Germany and that slaughter.

  11. I feel sorry for the Black Family and this may sound a little terse, but this young man had
    some sort of issues, we will not understand and apparently neither did his Family or Friends
    from what I have heard, his problems were known…..Pretty Sad !!.

    So here is a point in time to fix the NICS database so it can search other data fields that would
    have shown this young man should have never been cleared in the background check system.

    For the legislator that has proposed S.22, this will not or would not have stopped someone with
    the intent to end there life, it will happen in a day, a week or a month whenever…No one knows,
    what’s in someone’s mind, especially a party driven legislator !!

    All this bill will do his hinder law-abiding citizens of there freedom and rights, in Vermont, we
    have hundreds of thousands of legally owned firearms that never caused a problem since the
    day they were purchased.

    If legislators were really concerned about the Life of its citizens then they should be really pushing
    for fixes for Drug Deaths, Automobile Fatalities, and many others that happen in multiples

    All this is Gun Control from a Liberal Agenda …………. It’s Shameful to use this tragedy !!

  12. If these Marxist fanatics like Baruth take this to the hilt and pass it, there’ll be another round of lawsuits, costing the taxpayers millions more to try and insure that our freedoms continue to be curtailed. Moreover, making two trips to the gun shop instead of one requires more petroleum fuels to be burned, and creates greater danger of car accidents, doesn’t it?

    These dogmatic leftists are idiots. Blind idiots.

  13. I’m sorry for the Black’s at the loss of their son,perhaps it best to be involved in your loved ones life,what with all the day to days busy schedules.

    However from a second amendment,strict scrutiny stand point,both would be found unconstitutional as SCOTUS has ruled in the Heller case regarding storage of arms in ones home,would it be reasonable to lock up/away ones knives and axes when not in immediate use,which their son could have very well used instead of a firearm and a waiting period is a right denied.

    How many natural rights should “We The People” accept the infringement of to exercise,perhaps a 48 hour period before I’m allowed to post my thoughts here,I think Not.

  14. Once more Sen. “OK Corral” Baruth (out-of-state Carpetbagger) deems it necessary to fire up his magic Anti-Gun pen to scribble yet another useless law based on a SINGLE INCIDENT and ONE PERSON (I’m sorry the Black family suffered such a tragic loss but it had nothing to do with the “tool” their Son used) which will effect hundreds of thousands of law abiding Vermonters and place them in possible harm.

  15. I’m sorry for their loss, but this does not rise to the level of infringing on the Second Amendment!

  16. I feel sorry for the Black’s at the loss of their son, but find it hard to imagine that , had he been denied the gun purchase, he would not have simply chosen another means of ending his life. Pills, bridges, tall buildings, driving at full speed into a rock ledge,etc. are all easy and quick alternatives producing the same end result. The Black’s are making an assumption that more time would have changed the outcome, but there is no basis in fact for their assumption.
    This idea of passing laws on the basis of “if it just saves one life……………” is going to result in the loss of all of our freedoms.

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