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 Check Procedures in Vermont

See our Background Check Procedures 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). ⤴︎

Categories of Prohibited People in Vermont

See our Prohibited Purchasers policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Federal law prohibits certain people from purchasing or possessing firearms, such as people convicted of felonies, certain domestic abusers, and certain people with a history of mental illness.

Before 2015, Vermont had not adopted any classes of prohibited persons broader than those set forth under federal law (and had not made sales to those purchasers a state crime).

However, in 2015, Vermont passed a law prohibiting a person who has been convicted of a violent crime from possessing a firearm.1 For the purposes of this prohibition, “firearm” is defined to include (i) any weapon (including a starter gun) which will or is designed to or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive; (ii) the frame or receiver of any such weapon; or (iii) any firearm muffler or firearm silencer, except if the firearm is an antique firearm.2 The statute defines “violent crime” to include certain enumerated crimes,3) including domestic assault and stalking offenses.4

A Vermont court may, as a condition of probation, require that an offender or juvenile offender refrain from purchasing or possessing a firearm or ammunition without written permission from the court, probation officer, or juvenile probation officer.5

In 2018, Vermont also enacted a law to allow prosecutors to act to temporarily disarm dangerous people by using an Extreme Risk Protection Order.6  Respondents subject to these orders are prohibited from purchasing, possessing, or receiving a firearm, or having a firearm within the person’s custody or control, for a period of up to six months while the order is in effect.7

Vermont has no laws prohibiting the purchase or possession of firearms by:

  • Persons with a history of impairing mental illness;
  • Persons subject to domestic violence restraining orders (although Vermont does provide that a court issuing these orders may prohibit abusers from possessing firearms);
  • Drug or alcohol abusers; or
  • Juvenile offenders.

For information on the background check process used to enforce these provisions, see the Vermont Background Checks section.

 

Notes
  1. See 2015 VT S.B. 141, enacting Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 4017.  This prohibition applies unless the person has successfully petitioned the U.S. Attorney General for relief from the disabilities imposed by Federal laws with respect to the acquisition, receipt, transfer, shipment, transportation, or possession of firearms. ⤴︎
  2. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 4017(d)(1), (2). ⤴︎
  3. Those listed in Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 5301(7 ⤴︎
  4. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 4017(d)(3). ⤴︎
  5. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 28, § 252(b)(8), tit. 33, § 5262(b)(4). ⤴︎
  6. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 4051, et seq. (enacted by 2017 VT S 221). ⤴︎
  7. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, §§ 4053(e)(2), 4054(d)(1). ⤴︎

Design Safety Standards in Vermont

Vermont has no law imposing design safety standards on handguns.

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

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

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. ⤴︎

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. ⤴︎