Vermont bill would ban cell phone use by anyone younger than 21

The bill reasons if those under 21 aren’t mature enough to smoke or own a gun, they shouldn’t own a cell phone either.

A bill has been introduced in Vermont’s legislature that would prohibit anyone under the age of 21 years old from using or processing a cell phone. However, the bill appears to be more about gun rights than cell phones.

The bill, introduced by Democratic Sen. John Rodgers on Tuesday, says those under the age of 21 “are not developmentally mature enough” to posses and use cell phones safely. The bill cites fatal car crash and bullying among teens as reasons for the proposed legislation.

“The use of cell phones while driving is one of the leading killers of 15 teenagers in the United States,” according to the bill (PDF). “Young people frequently use cell phones to bully and threaten other young people, activities that have been linked to many suicides.”

The bill would make possession or use of a cell phone by anyone under than 21 punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

The bill says that if those under 21 “aren’t mature enough” to possess guns, smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol, then the same rule should apply to cell phone use. In recent years, the state has passed laws raising the minimum smoking age to 21 and prohibiting the sale of firearms to anyone under 21.

No state legislates a minimum age for cell phone ownership, but 38 states prohibit any use of cell phones by teens behind the wheel of a car.

Rodgers — a strong supporter of gun rights — told the Times Argus that he introduced the bill to make a point about firearms, saying the Legislature “seems bent on taking away our Second Amendment rights.”

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

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