Ammunition Regulation in Vermont

Vermont law prohibits any person, firm or corporation, other than a parent or guardian, from selling or furnishing any ammunition to a minor under age 16.1 Federal law, however, imposes stricter age requirements on the sale of ammunition.

Vermont does not:

See our Ammunition Regulation policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

 

Notes
  1. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 4007. ⤴︎

Background Checks in Vermont

See our Background Checks policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Federal law requires federally licensed firearms dealers (but not private sellers) to initiate a background check on the purchaser prior to sale of a firearm. Federal law provides states with the option of serving as a state “point of contact” and conducting their own background checks using state, as well as federal, records and databases, or having the checks performed by the FBI using only the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”) database. (Note that state files are not always included in the federal database.)

Vermont is not a point of contact state for the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Vermont has no law requiring firearms dealers to initiate background checks prior to transferring a firearm. As a result, in Vermont firearms dealers must initiate the background check required by federal law by contacting the FBI directly.1

A law enacted in 2018 now generally requires gun sales or transfers between unlicensed individuals to be processed by a licensed firearms dealer, pursuant to a background check. For more information about this law, see the Private Sales in Vermont section.

Notes
  1. Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Instant Criminal Background Check System Participation Map, at http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/nics/general-information/participation-map (last visited Aug. 19, 2015). ⤴︎

Dealer Regulations in Vermont

See our Dealer Regulations policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Federal law requires firearms dealers to obtain a license from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), although resource limitations prevent the ATF from properly overseeing all its licensees.

Vermont has no law requiring firearms dealers to obtain a state license or permit.

For information about the Vermont law requiring firearms dealers to maintain records of sales, see the Vermont Retention of Sales/Background Checks Records section.

A law enacted in 2018 now generally requires gun sales or transfers between unlicensed individuals to be processed by a licensed firearms dealer, pursuant to a background check. For more information about this law, see the Private Sales in Vermont section.

Design Safety Standards for Handguns in Vermont

Vermont has no law imposing design safety standards on handguns.

See our Design Safety Standards for Handguns policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

According to research conducted by the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence (now Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence), Vermont’s Attorney General may have the authority to regulate junk guns, as well as to promulgate other firearms safety standards.1

Notes
  1. The Vermont Consumer Fraud Act, Vermont Statutes Annotated title 9, § 2453. For details, see Legal Action Project, Center to Prevent Handgun Violence, Targeting Safety (2001), at http://www.bradycenter.org/xshare/pdf/reports/targetingsafety.pdf. ⤴︎

Disarming Prohibited Persons in Vermont

In 2018, Vermont enacted a limited Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) law, which authorizes certain prosecutors—either State’s Attorneys or the Office of the state Attorney General—to petition a court for a civil order preventing a dangerous person from accessing firearms for up to six months.1

In order to obtain an ERPO, an eligible petitioner must file a petition with the superior court either in the county where the petitioner is located, the county where the respondent resides, or the county where the events giving rise to the petition have occurred.2  The petition must be supported by a sworn affidavit including specific facts to support the petitioner’s allegations that the respondent poses an extreme risk of causing harm to himself or herself or another person by purchasing, possessing, or receiving a dangerous weapon or by having a dangerous weapon within the respondent’s custody or control.3

In most cases, the court is required to hold a hearing on the matter within 14 days after the petition was filed, after providing notice to the respondent.4

If, after the hearing, the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that the respondent poses an extreme risk of causing harm to self or others by purchasing, possessing, receiving, or having custody or control of a firearm, the court will issue an ERPO prohibiting the respondent from possessing or acquiring firearms for up to six months.5

In emergency cases, a State’s Attorney or the Attorney General may instead request that the court issue an ex parte temporary ERPO, prior to providing notice and holding a hearing. 6  In such cases, the court will issue an ex parte ERPO if it finds by a preponderance of the evidence that, at the time the ERPO is requested, the respondent poses an imminent and extreme risk of causing harm to self or others by purchasing, possessing, or receiving a firearm or by having a firearm within his or her custody or control.7 The temporary ERPO may generally only be in effect for up to 14 days, before the court holds a full hearing “as soon as reasonably possible” within that timeframe regarding whether to grant a longer ERPO.8

Unless the court orders an alternate procedure for relinquishment, people subject to ERPOs are required to relinquish their firearms immediately upon receiving notice of the order, either to a law enforcement agency or a federally licensed firearms dealer.9 The law provides standard procedures for a law enforcement agency, firearms dealer, or court-approved third party to follow while receiving and keeping the respondent’s relinquished firearms.10

This law provides a standard process for respondents to request that an ERPO be lifted11 and for petitioners to request that the ERPO be renewed and extended by up to six months.12

Vermont makes it a crime to file a petition for an ERPO, or a supporting affidavit, knowing the information in the petition or affidavit is false, or with intent to harass the respondent.13

For more information about ERPO laws, visit our Extreme Risk Protection Orders policy page.

 

Outside the Extreme Risk Protection Order context, Vermont has no other law requiring the removal of firearms from persons who have become prohibited from possessing them.

Notes
  1. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 4051, et seq. (enacted by 2017 VT S 221). ⤴︎
  2. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 4052. ⤴︎
  3. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 4053(c).

    An extreme risk of harm to others may be shown by establishing that:

    (i) the respondent has inflicted or attempted to inflict bodily harm on another; or

    (ii) by his or her threats or actions the respondent has placed others in reasonable fear of physical harm to themselves; or

    (iii) by his or her actions or inactions the respondent has presented a danger to persons in his or her care.

    An extreme risk of harm to himself or herself may be shown by establishing that the respondent has threatened or attempted suicide or serious bodily harm. Id. ⤴︎

  4. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 4053(d). ⤴︎
  5. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 4053(e). ⤴︎
  6. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 4054.  In such cases, the petitioner shall submit an affidavit in support of the motion providing specific facts supporting an allegation that the respondent poses an imminent and extreme risk of causing harm to self or others by purchasing, possessing, or receiving a dangerous weapon or by having a dangerous weapon within his or her custody or control, and also identifying any dangerous weapons the petitioner believes to be in the respondent’s possession, custody, or control. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 4054(a)(2). ⤴︎
  7. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 4054(b). ⤴︎
  8. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 4054(d)(1). ⤴︎
  9. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 4059(b). ⤴︎
  10. Id. ⤴︎
  11. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 4055(a), (c). ⤴︎
  12. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 4055(b), (c). ⤴︎
  13. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 4058(b)(2). ⤴︎

Domestic Violence & Firearms in Vermont

Vermont has no law:

  • Prohibiting individuals subject to domestic violence protective orders from possessing firearms or ammunition, although federal law applies;
  • Requiring courts to notify domestic abusers that they are prohibited by federal law from possessing firearms or ammunition;
  • Requiring the removal or surrender of firearms at the time a domestic violence protective order is issued; or
  • Requiring the removal of firearms at the scene of a domestic violence incident.

In 2015, Vermont enacted a law prohibiting individuals who have been convicted of a violent crime from possessing a firearm.1 The definition of “violent crime” includes domestic violence misdemeanor offenses including domestic assault, stalking, sexual assault, and aggravated assault crimes.2 Under Vermont law, “domestic assault” only includes offenses against family or household members,3, but misdemeanor stalking, sexual assault, and aggravated assault offenses against any person would trigger the firearm prohibition.4

Though Vermont law does not prohibit individuals subject to domestic violence protective orders from possessing firearms or ammunition, Vermont does provide that a court issuing a protective orders for family or household members may make such orders as it deems necessary to protect the plaintiff and/or the children.  The Supreme Court of Vermont has found that this provision authorizes the court to prohibit a defendant from possessing firearms.5 If courts issue such an order prohibiting a respondent from accessing firearms, the abuser is required to relinquish any firearms and ammunition in his or her possession to a law enforcement agency or an approved federally licensed firearms dealer.6 The court issuing the protective order may order that the subject of the order relinquish the firearms and ammunition in his or her possession to someone other than a law enforcement agency or approved federally licensed firearms dealer, unless the court finds that the relinquishment to the other person will not adequately protect the safety of the victim.7

In 2018, Vermont also passed legislation authorizing (but not requiring) law enforcement to temporarily remove firearms from domestic abusers in certain cases where the officer is arresting or citing a person for domestic assault.8  In such cases, an officer may temporarily remove firearms that are in the abuser’s immediate possession or control, in plain view at the scene of the assault, or discovered during a lawful search, if doing so is necessary for the protection of the officer, the abuser, the victim, or a family member of the victim or abuser.9 The officer may also remove firearms that are illegally possessed or that will be used as evidence in a criminal proceeding.10

See our Domestic Violence & Firearms policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. See 2015 VT S.B. 141, enacting Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 4017. ⤴︎
  2. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, §§ 4017(d)(3), 5301(7). ⤴︎
  3. See Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, §§ 1042-44 ⤴︎
  4. See Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, §§ 5301(7), 1062-63, 3252-53, 1024. ⤴︎
  5. Benson v. Muscari (2001) 172 Vt. 1, 769 A.2d 1291 (interpreting Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 15, § 1103(c) ). ⤴︎
  6. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 20,  § 2307(b). ⤴︎
  7. Id. ⤴︎
  8. 2017 VT H 422. ⤴︎
  9. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13,  § 1048(a). ⤴︎
  10. Id. ⤴︎