Democratic state Sen. John Rodgers introduced a bill in Vermont’s legislature on Thursday that would prohibit people under 21 from possessing cellphones. Offenders would be punished with a US$1,000 fine or a year in jail if the bill is passed into law.
The text of the bill blames cellphones for bullying, suicide, extremism, driving crashes and mass shootings among teens. It also suggests cellphones should be regulated in the same way as tobacco, alcohol and firearm possession.
“I have no delusions that it’s going to pass,” Rodgers told the local Times Argus newspaper. “I wouldn’t probably vote for it myself.”
Rodgers told the paper he’s using the bill to make a point in the Vermont legislature, which recently set the minimum age for buying guns and smoking tobacco at 21.
Rodgers added that based on the information presented in the bill, a cellphone is much more dangerous than a gun.
“In light of the dangerous and life-threatening consequences of cellphone 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 says. “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 says he’s a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, and he fears that state lawmakers are determined to rob Vermont residents of their individual rights.
Social media users were quick to accuse Rodgers of wasting lawmakers’ time with a cynical stunt.
Twitter user @culaterover called the proposal “stupid” and “ridiculous.”
“So if you have to make a 911 call (you can’t use a cellphone), you would have to look for a landline phone.”
“That would be hilarious if it passed,” wrote user @PetiteNicoco. “You can literally go to war but you can’t have a cellphone yet in Vermont.”
“What’s next?” tweeted user Heather Lemons. “Books?”