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. 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. The statute defines “violent crime” to include certain enumerated crimes,) including domestic assault and stalking offenses.
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.
In 2018, Vermont also enacted a law to allow prosecutors to act to temporarily disarm dangerous people by using an Extreme Risk Protection Order. 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.
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.