Vermont Gun Rights

An Overview of Firearms Laws in the Green Mountain State

Does Vermont law recognize a resident's right to keep and bear arms? It does. In fact, Vermont is one of the most permissive states in the country when it comes to gun laws. Its legislative code states: 

That the people have a right to bear arms for the defense of themselves and the State 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.

Laws Regarding Concealed Carry

Vermont is one of only three states in America that allows anyone to carry a concealed weapon without a permit. The other two states are Alaska and Arizona.

Additionally, Vermont is one of only few states in the nation that allow citizens younger than age 21 to carry. Anyone age 16 or older can carry handguns openly or concealed in this state. Youths under the age of 16 require parental consent. 

Vermont’s lax and lenient carry laws do not permit persons banned from owning a handgun to carry, however. 

One drawback to Vermont’s law is the inability for residents to carry concealed handguns when traveling to other states. Because the state does not issue carry permits, there are few reciprocal agreements for Vermont residents who are traveling, but they can carry in Arizona, Alaska, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oklahoma and West Virginia based upon their driver's licenses or state-issued ID proving they're Vermont residents.

 

Vermont honors carry permits from the following states: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Washington DC, West Virginia and Wyoming – in other words, the overwhelming majority.

 

The Castle Doctrine

Vermont is also one of only a handful of U.S. states without a self-defense law based on the castle doctrine. Case law has generally upheld the right of citizens to protect themselves in the face of criminal attack without a “duty to retreat” before using force as a last resort, but there's no statute on the books that allows crime victims to “stand their ground” in the face of an attack.

Pro-Gun Provisions

Open and concealed carry is permissible without a permit for most people, although rifles and shotguns must be unloaded if they’re being transported in a vehicle on a public roadway.

Vermont has a firearms preemption law that prevents cities or counties from enacting gun laws that are more restrictive than state law. The state also has a range protection law that extends protection to gun firing ranges.

Restrictions

  • Gun bans: None.
  • Waiting periods for gun purchases: None.
  • License or permit to purchase guns: None.
  • Registration of guns: None.

Places in Vermont where it is illegal to carry a gun include:

  • Schools
  • Courthouses
  • Federal and other government buildings

It's legal to carry in restaurants.