Politics

A Vermont lawmaker filed a bill to make cellphones illegal for people under age 21. Here’s why.

"I wouldn’t probably vote for it myself."

AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File

A Vermont state lawmaker has put forth a bill that would ban anyone under the age of 21 from possessing a cellphone — a proposal intended to make a statement, he says.

State Sen. John Rodgers, a Democrat from the Essex-Orleans District, filed the legislation just as the General Assembly begins its 2020 session.

The bill illustrates how cellphones can be dangerously used, including in fatal distracted-driving vehicle crashes and through online bullying that can lead to suicides among adolescents, according to the filing.

“The Internet and social media, accessed primarily through cell phones, are used to radicalize and recruit terrorists, fascists, and other extremists,” the bill says.

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“Cell phones have often been used by mass shooters of younger ages for research on previous shootings,” it adds.

Citing how state officials have decided that people under the age of 21 are not legally allowed or mature enough to possess firearms, drink alcohol, or smoke cigarettes, the bill says it is also clear that the same demographic is not “developmentally mature enough to safely possess” cellphones.

If passed, violators of the law would be subject to up to a year in prison or a fine up to $1,000 or both, according to the bill.

But Rodgers doesn’t expect the proposal will become law, he told The Barre Montpelier Times Argus. Instead, he filed the bill to make a point, he said.

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Rodgers told the newspaper Wednesday that the Vermont Legislature “seems bent on taking away our Second Amendment rights.”

A strong Second Amendment supporter, Rodgers said the bill states how a cellphone is more dangerous than a firearm.

“I have no delusions that it’s going to pass,” he said. “I wouldn’t probably vote for it myself.”

The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary.

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