Press Release

Giffords Law Center, Vermont Medical Society, and GunSense Vermont Urge Court To Reject Meritless Challenge to Vermont’s Lifesaving Restrictions on Large Capacity Ammunition Magazines

Gun-Safety Groups File Friend-of-the-Court Brief in Gun-Lobby Challenge to S.55, Which Limits Size of Ammunition Magazines in Vermont

July 25, 2018 — Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the Vermont Medical Society, and GunSense Vermont urged Vermont’s Superior Court to reject a gun-lobby backed challenge to S.55, an important gun safety measure adopted in the aftermath of the Parkland, Florida mass shooting. Among other things, S.55 restricts access to the large capacity magazines used in mass shootings from Sandy Hook to Las Vegas and countless other tragedies. It was signed by Governor Scott shortly after the Vermont State Police stopped a would-be mass shooter from perpetrating a school shooting at Fair Haven High School.

The groups’ amicus curiae brief, filed in Vermont Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs v. Birmingham, is available here. Tristram J. Coffin, Jennifer McDonald and Megan Noonan at Downs Rachlin Martin in Burlington and Bridget Asay and Michael Donofrio at Stris & Maher in Montpelier worked as pro bono counsel with Giffords Law Center’s litigation team to prepare and file the brief.

The groups issued the following statements:

Hannah Shearer, Second Amendment Litigation Director at Giffords Law Center:  

“This year, elected officials in Vermont came together to take action and pass a package of laws that could better protect their communities from gun violence. The state’s restrictions on large capacity ammunition magazines are just one of nearly five dozen important gun safety measures signed into law in 26 states since the Parkland shooting, and are supported by significant majorities of Vermont residents.  The law does not interfere with anyone’s right to hunt or engage in sport shooting, and it doesn’t stop any law-abiding resident of Vermont from using a firearm for lawful self-defense. We are confident the court will reject the gun-lobby’s meritless lawsuit, and look forward to a swift resolution of this case.”

Rebecca Bell, MD, MPH, Pediatric Critical Care physician at the University of Vermont Children’s Hospital, Member of the Vermont Medical Society and Vice President of the Vermont Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics:

“The Vermont Medical Society is pleased to join this amicus brief in support of S. 55 on behalf of our 2400 physician, physician assistant and medical student members. Although even a single bullet wound has the potential to be fatal, ammunition devices that allow for multiple injuries and a greater number of victims are of particular concern. More bullet wounds lead to more devastating injuries and a higher likelihood of death. Multiple gunshot victims will stress any hospital system despite contingency plans for mass casualty events. Vermont physicians and trauma team members work to save victims of trauma every day. We provide high levels of expertise, skill and resources to those critically injured. But the devastating injuries and multiple victims made more possible by large capacity feeding devices make saving lives more difficult.”

Clai Lasher-Sommers, Executive Director of GunSense Vermont:  

“On behalf of its members — gun owners and non-gun owners alike, and members of all three major political parties in Vermont — Gunsense Vermont is proud to join with Giffords Law Center and the Vermont Medical Society to file a brief explaining why the court should uphold the life-saving legislation recently adopted in Vermont.  We strongly believe that the arguments presented will show that the Vermont Constitution does not tie the legislature’s hands in passing reasonable gun safety legislation.”