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Vermont lawmakers approve sweeping gun control measures

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 19: Governer of Vermont, Phil Scott, speaks during the NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at Charlotte Convention Center on January 19, 2018 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

MONTPELIER, Vt. — Vermont Gov. Phil Scott says he will sign sweeping gun control measures that include a ban on bump stocks, limits on the size of magazines, the expansion of background checks on buyers and the raising of the purchase age.

The Vermont Senate approved the contentious package Friday by a 17-13 vote after the House of Representatives passed it earlier. The bill needed 16 votes to pass.

On Saturday, people gathered in Montpelier, Vermont, to protest the vote, and gun rights activists handed out free rifle magazines.

“My fear is that legislatures will pass knee-jerk legislation, without any depth, without any meaning and it’s really not going to make Vermont any safer,” Rob Curtis, executive editor for firearms lifestyle magazine Recoil, told WCAX.

Curtis said he contacted firearm accessory producer Magpul Industries about the bill, and in response the company shipped overnight 1,200 30-round magazines, according to WCAX.

The vote comes as other states consider gun safety restrictions after 17 people were killed February 14 in a mass shooting at a Florida high school. The shooting was one of the deadliest in modern US history.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed a gun control bill on March 9. It was called the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act after the Parkland, Florida, high school where students and staff were massacred.

On March 24, survivors of the Parkland rampage led hundreds of thousands in March for Our Lives events across the country, delivering a message to lawmakers that inaction on gun violence is no longer acceptable.

In Vermont, the amendment to the present law raises the purchase age of guns to 21. Bump stocks, which allow semi-automatic weapons to fire at a more rapid rate, will be banned.

Vermont is known as friendly to hunters and gun owners. Its governor, a Republican, backed the new firearms safety legislation after potential for danger moved close to home. Police foiled a school shooting plot at Fair Haven Union High School shortly after the Florida shooting.

“Vermont is currently one of the healthiest and safest states in America. However, as tragedies in Florida, Las Vegas, Newtown (Connecticut) and elsewhere — as well as the averted plot to shoot up Fair Haven High School — have demonstrated, no state is immune to the risk of extreme violence,” Scott said in a statement Friday.

The legislation makes exceptions for law enforcement and the military and those who have taken gun safety courses.