Rhode Island Senate Passes Legislation Mandating Safe Firearm Storage

In a significant move aimed at enhancing firearm safety, the Rhode Island Senate today approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Pamela J. Lauria. The legislation, designated as 2024-S 2202aa, mandates the safe storage of firearms across the state.

Under the proposed law, all firearms must be stored in a locked container or equipped with a tamper-resistant mechanical lock or other safety device when not in use by the owner or another authorized user. The measure aims to render firearms inoperable when not in the possession of their owners, thereby reducing the risk of accidents, suicides, or unauthorized use.

Similar laws are already in effect in neighboring states such as Massachusetts and Connecticut. The legislation received significant support, passing with a decisive 28-7 vote in the Senate. It now proceeds to the House of Representatives, where Rep. Justine A. Caldwell is sponsoring companion legislation, denoted as 2024-H 7373.

In a statement, Senator Lauria emphasized the critical importance of responsible firearm ownership, highlighting the alarming statistics of firearm-related incidents involving children and unauthorized users. She asserted, “Nationwide, firearms are the number one killer of children. No one can call themselves a responsible gun owner if they are leaving a gun where someone else can use it.”

The legislation not only imposes fines for unsafe firearm storage but also introduces stricter penalties for subsequent violations. A first offense could result in a fine of up to $250, escalating to $1,000 for a second offense. Repeat offenders may face up to six months in prison and fines of up to $500.

Moreover, the bill expands existing laws concerning firearm access by minors or prohibited individuals. It establishes penalties for improper firearm storage regardless of whether the gun is loaded and extends liability to cover adults prohibited by law from possessing firearms.

Senate leadership, including President Dominick J. Ruggerio and Majority Leader Ryan W. Pearson, commended the legislation as a common-sense approach to enhance public safety without infringing upon constitutional rights. Majority Leader Pearson, a co-sponsor of the bill, emphasized the importance of safe storage in preventing accidents, suicides, and gun thefts.

Senator Lauria’s advocacy for common-sense gun safety laws has gained momentum in light of concerning statistics. Reports from organizations like Sandy Hook Promise and Everytown for Gun Safety underscore the urgent need for measures to prevent unauthorized access to firearms, particularly by children.

The bill, co-sponsored by several key senators including Majority Whip Valarie J. Lawson and Judiciary Committee Chairwoman Dawn Euer, signifies a bipartisan effort to address firearm safety concerns in Rhode Island. Its passage in the Senate reflects a significant step towards implementing stricter firearm regulations aimed at safeguarding public welfare.




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