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Vermont state senator wants to ban cellphone use for people under 21 — they are 'not developmentally mature enough'

Violators would face up to one year in prison, a $1,000 fine, or both

Photo by Sergei Malgavko\TASS via Getty Images

A Democratic state senator in Vermont has proposed a bill to ban cellphone use for all persons under the age of 21 years old.

The bill, introduced Thursday by Sen. John Rodgers to the Judiciary Committee, would make the possession of a cellphone a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to one year in prison, a $1,000 fine, or both, WPTZ-TV reported.

What is the rationale for the bill?

Rodgers points to the fact that cellphone use while driving is one of the leading causes of death for teenagers in America as a reason for the bill's proposal.

"Each day, 11 teenagers die in automobile crashes in this country," the bill notes.

He also highlights the role cellphones play in teen bullying, which often leads to suicides, internet radicalization of "terrorists, fascists, and other extremists," and the use of the internet on cellphones by teenage mass shooters to research previous shootings.

"In light of the dangerous and life-threatening consequences of cell phone use by young people, it is clear that persons under 21 years of age are not developmentally mature enough to safely possess them, just as the General Assembly has concluded that persons under 21 years of age are not mature enough to possess firearms, smoke cigarettes, or consume alcohol," Rodgers argues in the text of the bill.

The bill is meant to start a conversation

Rodgers told the the Barre Montpelier Times-Argus that he knows the bill won't pass, but that he introduced it to make a point.

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

The state senator meant to draw a comparison to similar bills passed in that last two legislative sessions that increased the age requirement for purchasing tobacco products and firearms to 21 years old.

Rodgers said he's a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and that the Legislature "seems bent on taking away our Second Amendment rights."

According to the Times-Argus, he argued that based on the information presented in his bill, a cellphone is much more dangerous than a gun.

Several states have passed bills restricting cellphone use while driving for persons under 21 years of age, but Rodgers' bill marks the first time legislation has been drawn up to ban cellphone use in its entirety.

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