Under the bill, violators could get a $1,000 fine, up to a year in prison, or both

By Jason Duaine Hahn
January 10, 2020 08:03 PM

A bill proposed in Vermont intends to ban cell phone ownership for any resident under the age of 21, but even its sponsor doesn’t believe it will pass.

The bill, sponsored by Democratic Sen. John Rodgers, argued that cellphone usage has led to increased driving fatalities and other consequences such as bullying, suicides and the recruitment of terrorists.

“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,” the bill, introduced on Tuesday, states.

Under the ban, violators could get a $1,000 fine, up to a year in prison, or both.

But Rodgers admits the controversial bill will never make it past a vote, and even if it did, he wouldn’t support it.

“I’m not going to push for the bill to pass,” he explained to CNN. “I wouldn’t vote for the thing. This is just to make a point.”

Motorola's upcoming Razr phone, which would be banned for people under 21 if the bill passed

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According to Rodgers, his bill purposely mirrors the restrictions placed on gun ownership in the state, and he hopes it prompts residents to reconsider laws prohibiting the use of firearms.

In the bill, Rodgers explained that because the Vermont legislature recently concluded that people under 21 shouldn’t own guns, smoke cigarettes, or drink alcohol, then cell phones should be under the same restrictions since they can be used to hurt others.

“Cellphones are just as dangerous as guns,” he claimed to CNN.

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But the senator’s attempt at arguing for looser gun laws has not played well for some, including Michelle Fay, executive director of Voices for Vermont’s Children, a nonprofit that works to “improve the wellbeing” of children in the state.

“There are so many critical issues impacting the lives of working families in Vermont today,” Fay told the Barre Montpelier Times Argus. “We urge the Legislature to focus on the important work at hand instead of getting tied up in hollow diversions.”

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A ban on cell phones wouldn’t make sense, Fay said, because teens would still be able to use computers.

No state in the country has passed a law establishing a minimum age for cell phone ownership, CNET notes. Some 38 states do ban the use of cell phones by teenagers when they are driving.