Gun rights activists block firearms storage fee in relief from abuse orders


Gun rights advocates Wednesday told senators they no longer support legislation to create safe storage facilities for firearms relinquished by people subject to relief from abuse orders.

In response to pressure from gun groups the Senate Judiciary Committee plans to revamp that legislation to reach a compromise between gun owners and advocates for victims of domestic violence. The advocates want to keep guns away from people who have been issued relief from abuse orders from the courts.

Senators on Wednesday heard testimony from law enforcement officials, an advocate for victims of domestic violence and gun owners. The Judiciary Committee said it plans to rewrite legislation the House passed last month, and may even start from scratch.

"Obviously, we're not going to pass what the House passed. It sounds like what passed the House left a lot of people scratching their heads," Sen. Dick Sears, D-Bennington, committee chairman, said after the hearing.

Sears there also needs to be a decision on what to do during temporary restraining orders. Some legislators and witnesses said it is unfair to seize property from someone who has not been charged with a crime.

The firearm storage provision is one section in a broad fee bill before the Senate Finance Committee. The Judiciary Committee is hearing testimony on this section and will recommend changes to the Finance Committee.

In general, policy is not included in the fee bill, but an exception was made in this case. The administration made sure the firearms storage issue was included in the fee bill to avoid the tacking-on of gun-related amendments.

The $4 per week fee would be paid to law enforcement agencies that store the weapons.


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