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While some states are growing concerned with things like Juuls and gun access, one Vermont representative has decided to take the next step and propose a bill that would ban adults under the age of 21 from owning cellphones in Vermont.
The bill, proposed by Democratic Senator John Rodgers, was submitted last week to be considered by the Vermont Congress for potential voting. In the bill, Rodgers argues that anyone under the age of 21 is not physically or mentally mature enough to handle a device of such power.
Rodgers points specifically to three particular negative effects of said technology; that they play some part in 1.6 million car crashes every year, that they are used as tools to manipulate and bully their fellow young adults to the point of self-harm and suicide, and that they are used as tools by fascists and terrorists to radicalize teenagers to their cause, to the point of possibly becoming a future mass shooter.
If a 21-year-old was found to be purchasing such a device, they could be fined $1,000, given a year of jail time, or possibly both, at the discretion of the judge.
This bill certainly seems radical, particularly in an era where iPhones and Android devices are expected for the majority of social interactions and financial transactions. However, very few expect it to pass, including Rodgers himself.
He told a local Vermont paper that “I have no delusions that it’s going to pass. I wouldn’t probably vote for it myself….” Instead, he sees the bill as an opportunity to make a statement about guns. Rodgers is a strong supporter of gun rights, having previously voted against restrictions on gun violence in March 2019. In his opinion, phones cause far more death and damage every year than a gun, so shouldn’t they receive similar regulations?
This isn’t the first attempt at legally petitioning for bans to be placed on underage individuals having access to cellphones. In 2017, a Colorado father pushed a petition to ban 13-year-olds from owning a cell phone of their own to little effect.