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Vermont bill would ban cellphone use by anyone younger than 21

The bill reasons that if those under 21 aren't mature enough to smoke or own a gun, they shouldn't own a cellphone either.

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A Vermont lawmaker has proposed a ban on people under 21 owning or using a cell phone.

Leo Patrizi/Getty Images

A bill introduced in Vermont's legislature would prohibit anyone under 21 years old from using or possessing a cellphone. However, the bill appears to be more about gun rights than mobile phones.

The legislation, introduced Tuesday by Democratic Sen. John Rodgers, says those under the age of 21 "are not developmentally mature enough" to possess and use cellphones safely. The bill cites fatal car crashes and bullying among teens as reasons for the proposal.  

"The use of cell phones while driving is one of the leading killers of teenagers in the United States," according to the bill. "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 cellphone by anyone under 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 cellphone 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 cellphone ownership, but 38 states prohibit any use of cellphones 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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