Vermont’s new gun safety law just stopped a school shooting on its first day

It’s been just over two months since the horrific school shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida claimed the lives of seventeen innocent people – but already it feels like things are changing.

For far too long the pattern was nauseatingly clear: a mass shooting would occur, Americans would be outraged and call for change, Republicans would dig in their heels to block any new gun legislation, and eventually, the country would move on without having done anything.

The difference this time is that the student survivors of Parkland are refusing to back down quietly. They’ve become forceful activists, and they’re starting to make real progress. The conversation around guns in this country is rapidly shifting.

Now, it’s been made clear just how crucial new gun laws are. The Associated Press reports that just one day after the governor of Vermont signed a slate of new gun reform measures into law, one of them was used to prevent a possible school shooting.

The legislative package bans high capacity magazines, raises the age of firearm ownership by two years, and also allows for the government to block firearm ownership from individuals who pose a threat.

A judge was able to sign an “extreme risk protection” order, which stated that the suspect in this case constituted an extreme risk to himself and others. That ruling, in turn, gave authorities the power to block the suspect from obtaining firearms.

Governor Phil Scott (R) said he read the affidavit for this particular case, and it convinced him to evolve his stance on gun laws. He realized he needed to sign legislation that would give the government power to prevent this particular suspect from getting his hands on guns. Once he signed the new law, authorities were able to take appropriate action.

Prosecutors revealed that the suspect kept a diary he called “Journal of an Active Shooter.” In it were disturbing, detailed plans on how he would carry out a shooting at a specific school. His stated goal was to murder more people than any previous school shooters, adding further credence to the theory that many school shooters are motivated by a desire for media attention and infamy.

Somehow, the state Supreme Court has ruled that since the suspect didn’t actually carry out the shooting and since there wasn’t a mountain of evidence against him he must be released on bail. The AP reports that locals are unsettled by the decision and at least one school has decided to ramp up its security.

“People are frustrated, they are nervous, they’re scared. Because that’s a serious crime, it was a serious threat — a credible threat,” a local cafe owner told The AP.

A court hearing for the suspect is scheduled for later this month. Hopefully, this incident will encourage other states to adopt similar common-sense gun legislation. Even though the suspect was ordered released on bail, the fact that the government was able to step in in the first place and block his access to guns clearly demonstrates the efficacy of gun reform.

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Natalie Dickinson

Natalie is a staff writer for the Washington Press. She graduated from Oberlin College in 2010 and has been freelance blogging and writing for progressive outlets ever since.


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