Press Release

Giffords Commends Vermont Senate for Passing Legislation that Seeks to Reduce Firearm Suicide Deaths

This bill, S 169, establishes a 24-hour waiting period for all handgun purchases requiring background checks 

March 22, 2019 Giffords, the gun violence prevention organization led by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, applauded the Vermont senate for approving legislation that would establish a 24-hour waiting period on all handgun purchases following a mandatory background check.

The bill, S 169, sponsored by Senator Philip Baruth, Senator Alison Clarkson, and Senator Ruth Hardy, would help address the crisis of gun suicide facing Vermont and provide comfort to survivors and families of victims.

Statement from Nico Bocour, state legislative director at Giffords

“Suicide is one of the leading causes of death for youth in Vermont, and families know all too well the immeasurable pain of the gun violence crisis. Today’s Senate vote highlights a clear commitment from legislators to address this crisis head-on. Waiting periods save lives, and today is a significant step toward a safer Vermont. We thank Senators Baruth, Clarkson, and Hardy and Senator Sears for their leadership.

A report by Giffords Law Center, Confronting the Inevitability Myth: How Data-Driven Gun Policies Save Lives from Suicide, highlights the lethal connection between immediate gun access and suicide. The report finds that over half of all suicides result from self-inflicted gunshot wounds. Yet the link between gun access and suicide risk remains dangerously misunderstood, denied, and ignored. While the gun lobby continues to perpetuate the myth that guns play no role in suicide, the reality is the vast majority of people who attempt suicide survive their attempt, recover, and do not go on to die by suicide—unless they use firearms. This is why guns are used in 5% of suicide attempts but cause over 50% of suicide deaths.

Vermont currently requires no waiting period between the time of purchase and the actual physical transfer of a firearm, and the numbers show that suicide rates are much higher in states with weak gun laws and broad access to firearms. In 2018, the Vermont legislature took steps to decrease suicides by establishing an extreme risk protection order and requiring background checks on most gun sales. By implementing waiting periods, which provide a brief but crucial cooling off period to guard against impulsive, suicidal gun purchases, the legislature can begin to address the tragic and all-too-common realities of gun suicide in Vermont.

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