ESSEX, VT — To honor Andrew Robert Black, an Essex man who died earlier this month of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, his parents want grieving friends to lobby Vermont lawmakers for this: passing legislation that would have required the 23-year-old to wait a few days to buy a gun he used to kill himself.
“In honor of Andrew R. Black, we ask that you work for legislation that imposes a reasonable waiting period between firearm purchase and possession to provide a cooling off period to guard against impulsive acts of violence,” they wrote in an obituary published by the Burlington Free Press.
Black, the son of Rob and Alyssa Hughes Black, died the afternoon of Dec. 6 at his home in Essex. He had purchased the gun just hours before he shot himself, according to news reports.
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Vermont does not require a waiting period between buying a gun and acquiring it, according to the gun-control advocacy group the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
Black’s mother told television station WPTZ that her son “became upset about something” and went to a gun shop to buy the firearm around 11 a.m. After a background check, he walked out of the store just before 11:30 a.m., according to the credit card receipt, “and somewhere between 3 and 4 that afternoon, he shot himself,” she said.
“It was way too easy for this 23 year old kid to go down and buy a gun. If nothing but 24 hours to just cool down and realize that … it wasn’t the answer,” said Black’s father, a combat veteran who owns guns and keeps them locked up when not out for target practice.
Alyssa Black told the Burlington Free Press there’s no guarantee a waiting period would have saved her son’s life, “but there is possibility it could have,” giving his parents a chance to talk to him or spending the next day with coworkers and friends. He didn’t show any warning signs of suicide, and Alyssa Black thinks he came up with the plan to end his life rather quickly.
The man’s parents told WPTZ they don’t want their appeal to become political and they’re not anti-gun.
“We are responsible gun owners, we believe in our Second Amendment right to own guns, but we also think ‘what’s the big deal? What is 24 hours?'” Alyssa Black said.
According to national statistics, waiting periods decrease suicides by firearm by anywhere from 7 percent to 11 percent.
A day after the obituary was published, lawmakers were already hearing from their constituents asking for a waiting period.
Sen. Philip Baruth, a Democrat, thinks a 48-hour waiting period “is a good idea and has always has been.” He told WPTZ he will try to build a consensus among Vermont lawmakers around the idea of implementing a waiting period and legislation that would require firearms be stored securely when they are not in use.
Democratic Rep. Dylan Giambatista told the Free Press he received a flurry of emails about the waiting period, more than he typically receives when his state’s legislature is not in session. “I expect there could be debate in the coming legislative session,” he told the newspaper.
Republican Rep. Linda Myers told the Free Press she is giving serious consideration to the idea of a waiting period.
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