MONTPELIER, Vt. (NEWS10) — Vermonters who need to get firearms out of their homes now have access to a renewed program that provides safe storage at sites statewide, the Vermont State Police and the state Attorney General’s Office announced on Tuesday. Under the Firearms Storage Program, eight federally licensed firearms dealers in the state have signed up to accept firearms for temporary storage due to a protection order or for other safekeeping reasons.

“When a protection order has been issued requiring the relinquishment of firearms, or for a host of other reasons, Vermonters need safe, secure, and convenient options to store their weapons,” Commissioner of Public Safety Jennifer Morrison said. “This program provides that resource at eight locations from near the Canadian border to just north of the Massachusetts state line — and we are working to expand that list to include sites in all 14 counties.”

People may need to access safe firearms storage sites either due to a court order, or for other reasons such as travel, the presence of young children, mental health concerns, and more.

“I want to thank these Vermont businesses for participating in the Firearms Storage Program,” Attorney General Charity Clark said. “Providing an option for safe storage of firearms makes homes and communities safer, especially for those experiencing domestic violence.”

When a person is experiencing domestic violence involving a family or household member, the individual may seek a relief-from-abuse order. A judge can require the person who is the subject of the order to surrender any firearms.

The police will serve a copy of the order on the person and request the immediate surrender of any firearms. Once the firearms are relinquished to law enforcement, the police agency may store the firearms with a federal firearms licensee (FFL). Studies have shown that when people are experiencing domestic violence, having a firearm in the home greatly increases the risk of homicide.

People who are concerned about firearms that belong the someone other than a family or household member can contact a law enforcement agency regarding a court order called an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO), which requires a gun owner to surrender firearms. Only a State’s Attorney’s Office or the Attorney General’s Office may file a petition for an ERPO.

Gun owners do not need a court order to voluntarily store firearms with an FFL. However, law enforcement agencies typically will assist with relinquishment only if a court order is in place.

In Bennington County, gun owners can store their firearms at AGC Arms in Shaftsbury. For a full list of FFLS currently participating in the safe storage program, visit the program page on the Vermont State Police website.