Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Attorney General Peter Neronha were joined this afternoon by legislative leaders, activists, and members of law enforcement as they unveiled their package of comprehensive gun safety reforms. In addition to four new bills they have submitted to the General Assembly, the Governor and Attorney General are supporting four bills that were introduced by members of the General Assembly earlier in the legislative session.
“In just the past few months, we’ve seen horrific acts of gun violence across the country and here at home in communities like Westerly and Pawtucket,” said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. “We owe it to Rhode Islanders to pass common-sense gun safety measures, and we simply cannot wait any longer. I’m proud to support these critical reforms, and I’m grateful to my colleagues in the General Assembly who wasted no time in introducing potentially lifesaving legislation.”
“My Office sees the fallout from gun violence every day, particularly on victims and their families,” said Attorney General Peter Neronha. “Certainly, aggressive prosecution of those who engage in such conduct is warranted and is among this Office’s highest priorities. Yet there is still more to do on the prevention side – to keep guns out the hands of those of those shouldn’t have them in the first place, for mental health and other reasons; to make unavailable certain kinds of firearms that can cause the most damage to Rhode Islanders; and to ensure that firearms are safely stored and kept. The legislation announced today advances all of these goals, and this Office strongly supports all of them.”
“Rhode Islanders in every community are demanding common-sense action to prevent gun violence,” said Erich Haslehurst, Campaign Manager for the Campaign for Gun Violence Prevention RI. “There’s no one bill – no single solution – that will keep Rhode Islanders safe. This is going to take bold leadership. We are grateful to Governor Raimondo and Attorney General Neronha for their staunch support of this suite of legislation aimed at keeping our streets and our schools safe, and we will continue to show up every day to fight for strong gun safety laws.”
The four new bills introduced by the Governor and Attorney General are:
- Straw Purchasers: Makes it a crime to purchase a firearm on behalf of another person who the purchaser knows or suspects would be prohibited from purchasing or possessing a gun themselves.
- Safe Schools: Prevents people with concealed carry permits from carrying weapons on school grounds. This legislation includes exceptions for active and retired law enforcement.
- Safe Storage: Requires that all firearms be stored safely (i.e., locked and unloaded) unless under the direct control of the firearm owner or another authorized user.
- Rifles and Shotguns on Public Roads: Prohibits loaded rifles and shotguns from being carried on public rights of way in Rhode Island, either within or outside a vehicle. This legislation includes exemptions for law enforcement and hunters engaged in lawful hunting activity.
The Governor and the Attorney General are also supporting the following bills:
- Assault Weapons Ban, H7263/S2131: Bans all semi-automatic rifles, shotguns, and pistols that can hold a detachable magazine or more than a certain number of rounds without a magazine; and contains at least one of the other features associated with assault weapons specified in the law.
- High-Capacity Magazine Ban, H7264/S2130: Limits all firearm magazines to 10 rounds. People in possession of these magazines would have 180 days to sell, modify, or dispose of magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. The bill contains limited exceptions for law enforcement and active duty military.
- 3D/Ghost Gun Ban, H7102/S2004: Bans the manufacturing, importation, sale, shipment, delivery, possession or transfer of undetectable firearms.
- Background Check Loophole Closure, H7103/S2154/S2261: Provides that applications to purchase firearms be sent by the seller to the police department in the city or town where the purchaser lives.
“Mass shootings do harm above and beyond even the horrendous violence they inflict. They traumatize survivors, like the family in my district who survived the Las Vegas shooting. They damage entire communities, like the people I’ve met from Newtown who may never truly recover from their psychological and emotional wounds. These devices vastly increase the amount of harm a person can do. Last year’s Dayton shooter was taken down by police within 32 seconds of opening fire. Because he used a high-capacity, 100-round drum magazine, he was able to shoot 26 people in those 32 seconds. No civilian needs that capability, and the Second Amendment does not protect our right to fire 100 rounds without reloading, or to shoot 26 people in 32 seconds. These laws pass legal muster and are a moral necessity,” said Representative Justine Caldwell (Sponsor of H7263 and H7264).
“We introduced these bills early in the session because we believe legislation with the support of a large majority of Rhode Islanders and their senators and representatives should be heard early enough to be brought out of committees and voted on,” said Senator Joshua Miller (Sponsor of S2131). “These are the weapons of choice for mass shooters, not recreational hunters. They have no place in homes, neighborhoods or on the streets. As long as they are legal, our state is inviting people to have their very own weapon of mass murder, putting Rhode Islanders in danger.”
“We introduce these bills year after year. In the meantime, mass shootings continue to occur in America on an almost daily basis. After particularly large tragedies like Parkland, Las Vegas or Aurora, the public outrage about our lax gun laws swells, and yet here we are, still allowing the legal sale of weapons whose only purpose is to allow shooters to inflict as much damage as possible in a short time. What is it going to take for us to stop condoning the sale of weapons of mass murder?” said Senator Gayle Goldin (Sponsor of S2130).
“Ghost guns, 3-D printed guns and undetectable plastic guns are designed especially for criminal activity. They are meant to dodge the legal safeguards that protect public safety. Our state laws should be very clear that possessing, creating or selling them is a criminal act, and we should be doing everything we can to keep these dangerous weapons from proliferating here,” said Senator Cynthia Coyne (Sponsor of S2004). “I’m very grateful that the Senate has expedited this common-sense legislation, which addresses a loophole that has developed via new technology while protecting the rights of law-abiding citizens.”
“While I am a strong proponent of people’s right to bear arms, these devices simply lack the safety, reliability and accountability of conventional firearms and have become a menace to society,” said Representative Patricia Serpa (Sponsor of H7102)
“This is a simple matter of improving communication between law enforcement agencies,” said Representative Daniel McKiernan (Sponsor of H7103). “Local police departments are much more likely to have information regarding the mental health of a potential gun buyer. If there are concerns for the safety of the purchaser or others, then the police in the gun buyer’s community can take steps to keep the other agencies notified and potentially avert another tragedy.”