Press Release

Giffords Praises Vermont Legislature for Approving Bill that Seeks to Reduce Firearms Suicide Deaths, Calls on Governor Scott to Sign Legislation

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

Legislation will be critical to reducing Vermont’s higher-than-average suicide rate

May 16, 2019 — Giffords, the gun violence prevention organization led by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, applauded the Vermont House for passing legislation that would establish a 24-hour waiting period on all handgun purchases following a mandatory background check. The bill now heads to the desk of Governor Phil Scott, who Giffords is strongly urging sign it into law.

“A waiting period can help prevent a moment of crisis from turning into a permanent tragedy,” said Nico Bocour, state legislative director at Giffords. “Today’s vote is a step towards saving lives in Vermont. We thank the House for having the courage to address the suicide devastating the lives of too many young people and their families in the state. We urge Governor Scott to look at the evidence and act to help the Vermont residents that need help in a moment of crisis, not easier access to a gun.”

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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