Apparently, it is possible for a Republican to do an about-face on gun control laws. That is exactly what has happened for Vermont Governor Phil Scott between last Thursday and this Thursday.
“I’ve evolved on this,” Scott said at the press conference. “Where I was a week or two ago has changed completely.”
Up until now, Scott has opposed any new restrictions on gun ownership, despite that fact that Vermont has some of the most permissive gun laws in the country.
But then, last week Parkland happened. And then, a day later, the threat of gun violence hit much closer to home for Scott. Police responded to reports of an 18-year-old threatening to “shoot up” a Vermont high school.
The young man was arrested. But in an interview with police, he sketched a detailed plan for shooting students — “as many as I can get,” according to the arrest affidavit submitted in court.
Scott was shaken by the near-tragedy, and a day later he told local press that he was beginning to reconsider his position on gun control, and looking to put all options on the table.
“I need to be open-minded, objective and at least consider anything that will protect our kids,” he said.
On Thursday, Scott announced the specifics of his new approach to legislators, press, and dozens of Vermont students who were rallying in solidarity with the survivors of the Parkland shooting.
The governor said he plans to endorse bills that would allow authorities to confiscate firearms from those who pose a risk to public safety, raise the legal age to purchase guns to 21 and ban the sale of so-called “bump stocks,” which convert firearms into automatic weapons.
In addition, Scott called for an assessment of security standards in public schools, requested $5 million in school security grants, pitched legislation that would protect the identity of those who report potential threats, and said he would form a task force to consider other ideas to reduce gun violence in the state.