The Vermont Supreme Court last Friday upheld the state’s ban on standard capacity magazines.
The court found that the law, which restricts magazine capacity to 15 rounds for handguns and 10 rounds for long guns, is a “reasonable regulation of the right of the people to bear arms for self-defense.”
Signed into law by Gov. Phil Scott (R) in 2018, the mag ban was part of a larger, national anti-gun push in the wake of the mass killing at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Scott and the Democratically-controlled legislature also, at that time, criminalized private transfers, prohibited the possession of bump stocks, allowed for the seizure of firearms from anyone deemed an extreme risk, and outlawed the purchase of firearms for adults under the age of 21.
Max Misch, an Iraq war veteran, challenged the constitutionality of the magazine restriction after he was cited in 2019 for buying two 30-round rifle magazines in New Hampshire and bringing them back to Vermont.
In its 51-page ruling, the court examined Article 16 of the Vermont Constitution, the provision dealing with one’s right to keep and bear arms, concluding it “protects a limited right to individual self-defense” and is “subject to reasonable regulation.”
“Applying this standard,” the justices went on to say, “we conclude that (the law) satisfies the reasonable-regulation test because the statute has a valid purpose of reducing the lethality of mass shootings, the Legislature was within its authority in concluding that the regulation promotes this purpose, and the statute leaves ample means for Vermonters to exercise their right to bear arms in self-defense.”
Gov. Scott briefly commented Friday on the ruling.
“That doesn’t surprise me,” he told a reporter who had informed him of the decision. “We thought it was constitutional from the start.”
Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan, another supporter of the law, argued that it’s here to stay.
Along with Misch’s case challenging the ban, there was a civil case filed by various pro-gun organizations, including the Vermont Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, Vermont State Rifle & Pistol Association, and Powderhorn Outdoor Sports.
The court said its ruling on the Misch case “effectively” puts an end to the civil lawsuit brought by those pro-2A groups.
VTFSC President Chris Bradley said he would not “speculate” as to what the organizations would do next.
George Caldwell, a local gun shop owners, was dismayed by the news.
“This is another piece of legislation that weighs heavily on penalizing the law-abiding citizen while having very little evidence demonstrating its effectiveness,” he continued. “This type of feel-good virtue signal legislation demonstrates the core disconnect between gun-owners and lawmakers.”