Rep. Kenneth A. Marshall today is introducing legislation that would ban the sale of all firearms to people under age 21, and would limit possession of a firearm by people under 21 to those who are under the supervision of a parent, guardian or supervising adult while hunting or participating in a training, range or approved camp activity.
The bill is an effort to curb gun violence and prevent tragedies in the future.
“It is crystal clear that there need to be more careful, common-sense safety measures in place to protect against gun violence. All guns can be used to kill. The limits on their sale shouldn’t be less restrictive than the limits on the sale of a six-pack of beer. Just like we don’t allow the sale of alcohol to people under 21 because we want people to be mature enough to control themselves with it, we should not allow the sale of guns to people under 21,” said Representative Marshall (D-Dist. 68, Bristol, Warren).
Rhode Island already prohibits the sale of pistols and revolvers to anyone under 21, but people 18 or older can purchase rifles and shotguns, including semi-automatic weapons like the AR-15 used in the Parkland shooting.
Representative Marshall’s bill would make it illegal to sell any firearm to anyone under 21.
It would also limit possession of a firearm by those under 21 to those who are either hunting legally with a parent, guardian or qualified adult; or who have a firearms permit and are being supervised by a parent, guardian or an adult at a camp or rifle range approved by the state or local police; and to those participating in Reserve Officer Training Corps, state militia activities, ceremonial parade activities, competitive and target shooting, or a basic firearms education program. There is also an exemption that allows those under 21 to carry the gun, unloaded and in a case, from their home to a camp or range when accompanied by an adult over age 21 who is permitted to possess the gun.
The bill also raises to 21 the age below which people would need a firearms permit to possess a firearm at a range, gun club or camp.
Representative Marshall said he views the bill as one of several gun laws that should be modified to improve public safety, including the “red flag” bill (2018-H 7688) sponsored by Rep. Dennis Canario (D-Dist. 71, Portsmouth, Little Compton, Tiverton) that would allow courts to remove guns from those who are believed to be a risk to themselves or others.
The legislation is cosponsored by House Majority Leader K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick), Rep. Grace Diaz (D-Dist. 11, Providence), Rep. James N. McLaughlin (D-Dist. 57, Cumberland, Central Falls) and Rep. Deborah Ruggiero (D-Dist. 74, Jamestown, Middletown).