Minimum Age to Purchase & Possess in Vermont

Vermont law allows any person age 16 or older to possess a handgun without the consent of a parent or guardian.1 There is no minimum age to possess a rifle or shotgun in Vermont.

In 2018, Vermont enacted legislation to generally prohibit people from selling any firearm to a person under 21 years old.2 This law does not restrict gifts and transfers, however, and also does not apply to the sale of a firearm to a person under 21 if that person is a law enforcement officer or a member of the Armed Forces or National Guard, or if that person presents a certificate showing that he or she satisfactorily completed a hunting safety course approved by the state Commissioner of Fish and Wildlife.3

A separate Vermont law generally prohibits people from “furnishing” firearms or ammunition to anyone under 16, except for the minor’s parent, guardian, or instructor.4

Federal age restrictions impose stricter limits in some cases. See our Minimum Age to Purchase & Possess Firearms policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 4008. ⤴︎
  2. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 4020, enacted by 2017 VT S 55, Sec. 7. ⤴︎
  3. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 4020(b). ⤴︎
  4. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 4007. ⤴︎

Non-Powder Guns in Vermont

Vermont has no law restricting non-powder guns.  The state’s 2015 law prohibiting a person who has been convicted of a violent crime from possessing a firearm1 also does not apply to possession of non-powder guns.2

See our Non-Powder Guns 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)(1). For the purposes of this prohibition, “firearm” is defined to only include (i) a 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. ⤴︎

Other Location Restrictions in Vermont

Vermont prohibits the possession of a firearm in a courthouse without specific authorization from the court.1

In addition, the state prohibits the carrying or possession of a firearm in a private preserve without written consent of the owner or person having the exclusive right to take fish or wild animals on such lands.2 Possession of a firearm in the Bomoseen state game refuge is also prohibited.3

Firearms are regulated in state buildings in Vermont. The Commissioner of Buildings and General Services may promulgate rules and regulations concerning firearms and access to, and conduct upon, the grounds of structures and buildings which fall within the Commissioner’s jurisdiction.4

Vermont has no laws specifically prohibiting firearms in:

  • Parks;
  • Hospitals;
  • Places of worship;
  • Bars or restaurants where alcohol is served;
  • Sports arenas;
  • Gambling facilities; or
  • Polling places.
Notes
  1. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 4016(b). ⤴︎
  2. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 10, § 5204. ⤴︎
  3. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 10, § 5226(c). ⤴︎
  4. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 29, § 152(a)(14). ⤴︎

Private Sales in Vermont

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

In 2018, Vermont enacted legislation to close the dangerous “private sale” loophole by requiring most gun sales or transfers to be processed by a licensed firearms dealer, pursuant to a point-of-sale background check.1

Subject to certain exceptions (discussed below), Vermont’s law now requires an unlicensed seller and prospective recipient to appear together with the firearm at the premises of a licensed dealer to request that the dealer process the sale or transfer and conduct the required background check.2  The dealer will then take possession of the firearm and complete the sale or transfer in the same manner as the dealer would if selling the firearm from his or her own inventory, meaning that the dealer will conduct a background check on the prospective recipient and maintain a record of the firearm sale or transfer.3  The dealer may charge a reasonable fee for conducting the background check and processing the gun transfer.4  The dealer must return the gun to the seller if the prospective recipient does not pass the background check.5

Vermont’s exempts certain sales or transfers from these requirements, including:6

(1) the transfer of a firearm by or to a law enforcement agency;

(2) the transfer of a firearm by or to a law enforcement officer or a member of the U.S. Armed Forces acting within the course of his or her official duties;

(3) the transfer of a firearm from one immediate family member to another immediate family member;7 or

(4) a person who transfers the firearm to another person in order to prevent imminent harm to any person, provided that this exception only applies while the risk of imminent harm exists.

This 2018 law also makes it a crime, in connection with the transfer or attempted transfer of a firearm, to knowingly make a false statement or exhibit a false identification intended to deceive a licensed dealer with respect to any fact material to the transfer of the firearm.8  

 

Notes
  1. See Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 4019, enacted by 2017 SB 55, Sec. 6. ⤴︎
  2. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 4019(b). ⤴︎
  3. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 4019(c)(1). ⤴︎
  4. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 4019(c)(3). ⤴︎
  5. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 4019(c)(2). ⤴︎
  6. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 4019(e). ⤴︎
  7. “Immediate family member” means a spouse, parent, stepparent, child, stepchild, sibling, stepsibling, grandparent, stepgrandparent, grandchild, stepgrandchild, greatgrandparent, stepgreatgrandparent, greatgrandchild, and stepgreatgrandchild. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 4019(a)(2). ⤴︎
  8. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 4019(b)(2). ⤴︎

Prohibited Purchasers Generally 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). ⤴︎

Registration of Firearms in Vermont

Vermont has no law requiring the registration of firearms. In addition, Vermont law provides that “no inventory or record of privately owned firearms shall be made” by the Governor as part of civil defense planning.1

See our Registration of Firearms policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 20, § 8(b)(3)(B). ⤴︎