Gun laws in Vermont

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Location of Vermont in the United States

Gun laws in Vermont regulate the sale, possession, and use of firearms and ammunition in the U.S. state of Vermont.

Vermont formerly had very few gun control laws. But in 2018, the state enacted laws requiring background checks for private sales, raising the minimum age to purchase firearms to 21, banning the sale of handgun magazines that hold more than 15 rounds and rifle magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, banning the possession of bump stocks, and allowing police to seek a court order to seize guns from anyone deemed an extreme risk.[1][2] The portion of the law dealing with large capacity magazines has recently been challenged as unconstitutional under Vermont's constitution based upon the right to bear arms (Chapter I, Article 16) and the equal protection clause/"common benefits" clause (Chapter I, Article 7).[3][4]

The open or concealed carry of firearms is allowed without a permit. The state's rural character, along with its strong hunting and outdoor sports traditions, have contributed to the state's historical permissive gun policies. Gun dealers are required to keep a record of all handgun sales. It is illegal to carry a gun in a school building or bus, or in a courthouse. State law preempts local governments from regulating the possession, ownership, transfer, carrying, registration or licensing of firearms.[5]

The State neither issues nor requires a permit to carry a weapon on one's person, openly or concealed. This is known in the U.S. as constitutional carry, since one's "permit" is the United States Constitution. Vermont is the only state where this has always been the case (hence the alternative term Vermont carry[6]). Vermont law does not distinguish between residents and non-residents of the state; both have the same right to carry permit-free while in Vermont.

The Vermont Constitution of 1777, dating well before the Bill of Rights to a time when Vermont was an independent republic, guarantees certain freedoms and rights to the citizens: "That the people have a right to bear arms for the defense of themselves and the State – and as standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; and that the military should be kept under strict subordination to and governed by the civil power."[7] The Vermont Supreme Court established the right to carry firearms without a permit in its 1903 State v. Rosenthal decision.[8][9]

In January 2013, the City of Burlington, Vermont's most populous municipality, approved an ordinance banning assault weapons and certain magazines within its limits.[10] An attempt at gun control at the local level, the ordinance would likely be challenged in court if enforced because Vermont has State preemption of local restrictions.[11] The proposed ordinance was never fully enacted.

Summary table[edit]

Subject/Law Long guns Handguns Relevant Statutes Notes
State permit required to purchase? No No   Must be 21 to purchase any firearm. May purchase at 18 if one has passed an approved hunter safety course.[1][12]
Firearm registration? No No
Assault weapon law? No No
Magazine restriction? Yes Yes A gun control bill, passed on March 30, 2018, bans sale of magazines of more than 10 rounds for long guns and 15 rounds for pistols.[13] It was signed by Governor Scott on April 11.
Owner license required? No No
Permit required for concealed carry? N/A No Vermont Firearm Laws May carry open or concealed without permit as long as you are a citizen of the U.S. or a lawfully admitted alien, and not otherwise prohibited from possessing firearms under state or federal law.
Permit required for open carry? No No
State preemption of local restrictions? Yes Yes
NFA weapons restricted? No No Vermont legalized suppressors on June 17, 2015.[14]
Background checks required for private sales? Yes Yes [1]
Red flag law? Yes Yes [1]


  1. ^ a b c d Crow, Jack (April 12, 2018). "Vermont Governor Signs State's First Significant Gun-Control Laws". National Review. Retrieved April 13, 2018.
  2. ^ McCullum, April (April 10, 2018). "Gov. Scott Signs Vermont Gun Bills: When New Steps Take Effect". Burlington Free Press. Retrieved April 13, 2018.
  3. ^ Galloway, Anne (February 12, 2019). "Gun rights lawyers spar with state attorneys over magazine limit". VTDigger.
  4. ^ Therrien, Jim (May 30, 2019). "Max Misch attorney details challenge to Vermont gun law". Bennington Banner.
  5. ^ NRA/ILA Firearms Laws for Vermont
  6. ^ Charles C. W. Cooke, "Vermont: Safe and Happy and Armed to the Teeth", National Review Online, June 24, 2014.
  7. ^ Constitution of the State of Vermont, on the Vermont Legislature web site
  8. ^ "State V. Rosenthal". May 30, 1903. Retrieved March 21, 2015.
  9. ^ "State V. Rosenthal". May 30, 1903. Retrieved March 21, 2015.
  10. ^ "Burlington council approves assault weapons ban". January 7, 2013. Retrieved August 2, 2017.
  11. ^ "24 V.S.A. § 2295. Authority of municipal and county governments to regulate firearms, ammunition, hunting, fishing and trapping". Retrieved May 5, 2018.
  12. ^ "Minimum Age to Purchase & Possess in Vermont". Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. September 17, 2018. Retrieved May 8, 2019.
  13. ^ Bidgood, Jess (March 30, 2018). "Vermont Legislature Passes Sweeping Gun Restrictions". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 2, 2018.
  14. ^ "H.5 (Act 61): An act relating to hunting, fishing, and trapping". Archived from the original on June 25, 2015. Retrieved June 25, 2015.