The owner of a small business in central Vermont has changed his policy around assault-style rifles — no longer selling them following the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas and another investigation that hit close to home.
At Gold And Silver Thrift, a pawn shop in Barre, owner Craig McDermott still stocks pistols and hunting rifles — but he said he is no longer dealing in assault-style semiautomatic weapons.
"I don’t know what the solution is," McDermott said of the scourge of gun violence and mass shootings around the country. "But I feel this is my best attempt at doing my part to help out."
As a dad and little league coach, McDermott said the recent mass shooting tragedy at an elementary school in Uvalde — on top of a threat against Montpelier High School — convinced him those combat-type guns just don’t belong in his shop.
The store owner said while he didn’t sell many such firearms, maybe one every few months, he still thought it was important to set the new policy.
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"I didn’t want to have anything to do with a horrible event if something happened," McDermott told NECN & NBC10 Boston at his shop Thursday. "I want my hands to be clean if something like that were to happen — God forbid."
Vermont law used to have pretty laid-back attitudes about guns, until a young man was accused of plotting a school massacre in Fair Haven in 2018. While thwarted, the case prompted reforms.
"I do believe we can be a model for the rest of the country," Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vermont said this week.
Under those new laws, the age to buy a gun rose to 21 for most consumers. Background checks expanded. Higher-capacity magazines were banned. And police now can more easily take away guns from people deemed a risk to themselves or others — which happened in that recent Montpelier case.
Scott said high-level focus is still needed on mental health interventions.
"It really is about ‘if you see something, say something,’" Scott said, urging people to protect their friends and neighbors to come forward with information about concerning behavior they may have witnessed, overheard, or seen on social media. "We need to get that out to people, to students, and to everyday citizens."
School safety was the focus of a special meeting of the Colchester-Milton Rotary Thursday, with law enforcement and education officials telling attendees that close community relationships can be as important as training on shooting responses and emergency drills.
"We need to know our students very, very well, and make sure that we support them, so that we are able to understand what their needs are to prevent our students from feeling if they are in a crisis situation," said Amy Minor, the superintendent of schools in Colchester.
Back at the pawn shop, McDermott emphasized he still supports safe gun ownership and hunting. He called his decision to stop selling assault-style rifles simply an attempt at being a good neighbor.
“I hope other dealers will check their gut like I did,” McDermott said.