• Governor wants abusers’ guns locked up
     | October 04,2013

    MONTPELIER — Police should be able to charge for storing firearms belonging to people subject to abuse-relief orders, Gov. Peter Shumlin said Thursday.

    Those ordered by a court not to abuse someone are usually barred from possessing firearms, which Shumlin called an important safeguard when emotions are running high. The legislation he’s backing would lighten the burden on authorities trying to make sure those weapons are secure.

    “The goal is to give law enforcement and professional (gun) dealers the means to take control of the storage of firearms while protection orders are in effect,” the governor said, “instead of letting abusers hand them over to a friend or family member or, worse, hold on to them.”

    Under the legislation, police would be allowed to charge a fee for the storage of weapons and could sell them if the fee were not paid. A $75,000 fund would be set up to support building and maintaining storage facilities, with the goal that the fund would be replenished by the fees.

    Shumlin was joined by key lawmakers, leaders of the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence and others. He said he was prompted to make the announcement by a recent spate of domestic violence crimes in Vermont.

    Karen Tronsgard-Scott, executive director of the Vermont Network, thanked the governor and agreed with his assessment of the need for legislation.

    “Given the level of terrible domestic violence that Vermont has witnessed this summer, it feels even more pressing do to everything we can to make sure that abusers don’t have access to guns,” she said.

    Shumlin said current gun laws — Vermont is among the most favorable states in the country toward gun ownership rights — would not change. What would change would be the ability of police to take and store firearms when a judge orders that a domestic abuser not possess weapons.

    Tronsgard-Scott said national research showed the “presence of a gun in domestic violence situations increases the risk of homicide for women by 500 percent.”

    Police said taking and storing the weapons can be a burden.

    Washington County Sheriff Sam Hill, among the law enforcement officials who joined Shumlin at the news conference, said his department had one case in which it took and stored 15 weapons valued at $45,000.

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