Parents urge change in Vermont gun laws in their obituary for son who killed himself

The parents, who are gun owners, want their state to require a waiting period between buying and acquiring a gun to prevent "impulsive acts of violence."

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By Janelle Griffith

Parents of a 23-year-old Vermont man who killed himself hours after he bought a gun included in his obituary a call for the state to require a waiting period for firearms purchases.

The family's plea has caught the attention of at least some state lawmakers, with one saying there may be debate about the issue in the next legislative session.

Andrew Black bought a gun on the morning of Dec. 6 and that afternoon used it to commit suicide at his home in Essex, Vermont, his mother, Alyssa Hughes Black told NBC affiliate NBC5.

In his obituary, published in The Burlington Free Press, his family remembered him as loving and adventurous. They also asked for changes to legislation in lieu of flowers.

"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," the obituary read.

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The state of Vermont does not mandate a waiting period between buying a firearm and acquiring it, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a gun-control advocacy group.

She told the Burlington Free Press that a waiting period would not have guaranteed that her son would still be alive.

His mother told NBC5: "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?'"

His parents also said they did not want to politicize his death, but rather to prevent "impulsive acts of violence."

In a Facebook post, Black remembered her son as "a beautiful, funny, talented and kind young man."

She said he was loved by those who knew him and was "on his way to a bright future."

"We loved Andrew so much and we know Andrew loved us and our family," she said. "He was the glue that always kept us deeply connected and he was the bright joy that always kept us laughing."

About 23,000 people in the United States used a gun to commit suicide in 2016, the most recent year for which this data is available, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Suicide rates have risen 30 percent since 1999, the CDC said.

State Rep. Dylan Giambatista, a Democrat, said he has received more emails in a short time in response to Black's obituary than is typical outside of a legislative session. Giambatista also said he has been contacted by petitioners on Facebook.

“The tragic event in our community has generated a lot of feedback from neighbors who ask for action," Giambatista told NBC News. "There is support for looking at proposals to reduce the suicide rate, and waiting periods is one of several ways to address it."

Giambatista said he expects legislation will be introduced in the 2019 legislative session.