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Vermont Legislature closes ‘Charleston Loophole’ in gun buys

February 11, 2022 GMT

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The Vermont Senate on Friday gave final approval to a bill that would help keep firearms out of hospitals and extend to 30 days the maximum background check waiting period to purchase firearms, which would close the “Charleston Loophole.”

On Thursday the House gave final approval to a slightly amended bill that was originally passed by the Senate last week.

The bill now goes to Republican Gov. Phil Scott.

In addition to banning firearms in hospitals and extending the background check period, the bill clarifies that a judge has the authority to order a defendant to relinquish their firearms while an emergency relief from abuse order is in effect.

The Charleston Loophole is a provision in federal law that gives a gun seller discretion on whether to proceed with a sale if the FBI fails to determine within three business days whether a buyer is eligible to purchase a gun. It was used by the shooter in a 2015 massacre at a historic Black church in Charleston, South Carolina, to buy a gun.

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A spokesman for the governor said Friday that Scott is not opposed to considering proposals that would close the “Charleston Loophole,” but he does not believe Vermont needs new gun restrictions.

“Once we receive the bill, he will review it with input from stakeholders before deciding whether he can support it,” said spokesman Jason Maulucci.