Vermont Gun Laws
- A. State Constitution
- B. Scope of Preemption
- C. Reciprocal Carry
- D. NFA Items
- E. Carrying Firearms in Vehicles
- F. Self-defense Laws
- G. Criminal Provisions
Vermont is located in the Northeast, surrounded by New York, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Canada. It is the only state in the New England area that does not touch the Atlantic Ocean. It is the second least populous of the fifty (50) states. Vermont was the first state to enact constitutional carry laws, which are sometimes referred to as Vermont style carry.
A. State Constitution
Regarding the right to bear arms, the Vermont Constitution states:
“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.”
B. Scope of Preemption
The controlling language of Vermont’s preemption statute is set forth as follows:
“Except as otherwise provided by law, no town, city or incorporated village, by ordinance, resolution or other enactment, shall directly regulate hunting, fishing and trapping or the possession, ownership, transportation, transfer, sale, purchase, carrying, licensing or registration of traps, firearms, ammunition or components of firearms or ammunition. This section shall not limit the powers conferred upon a town, city or incorporated village under section 2291(8) of this title. The provisions of this section shall supersede any inconsistent provisions of a municipal charter.”
C. Reciprocal Carry
Vermont does not require a permit to carry a concealed or open weapon within the state.
D. NFA Items
Vermont permits ownership of all NFA items, provided they are legally obtained pursuant to federal law.
E. Carrying Firearms in Vehicles
Vermont permits any who may legally possess firearms to carry them in vehicles, but long guns must be kept unloaded.
F. Self-defense Laws
Vermont does not have a Castle Doctrine or SYG law, but courts have consistently ruled that there is no duty to retreat when attacked in Your dwelling. You may use force, including deadly force, in defense of yourself or others if You reasonably believe it is necessary to prevent imminent death, SBI, or the commission of a forcible felony.
G. Criminal Provisions
Under Vermont law, one cannot carry a handgun in any of the following places or circumstances:
- A person who carries a dangerous or deadly weapon, openly or concealed, with the intent or avowed purpose of injuring a fellow man, or who carries a dangerous or deadly weapon within any state institution or upon the grounds or lands owned or leased for the use of such institution, without the approval of the warden or superintendent of the institution, shall be imprisoned not more than two (2) years or fined not more than $200.00, or both.
- Intentionally point or aim a firearm towards another, except in self-defense
- Within a courthouse
- On a school bus or in a school building or on school property, unless the board of school directors authorizes the use of firearms for instructional purposes
- On the grounds of a state institution, unless the Warden gives permission (e.g., prisons, mental hospital, state colleges, etc.)
For a list of places where carrying firearms is prohibited, see:
Vermont Statutes can be accessed at: