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Sunday, July 28, 2013

General Assembly OKs Cathie Cool Rumsey firearms safety study

Assembly approves task force on firearms safety and behavioral health

They can start by studying this genius
STATE HOUSE – Legislators today voted to approve legislation to create a task force to address ways for the state to address firearms safety and behavioral health.

The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Deborah Ruggiero and Sen. Catherine Cool Rumsey, is a key element of the package of legislation introduced earlier this year in the General Assembly to address gun safety following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

The legislation (2013-H 5992A, 2013-H 862B) creates a 20-member task force to weigh the rights of those with behavioral health problems to own guns with the risks. The panel is to conduct a review of current law and make recommendations on legislation to improve public safety by developing a more comprehensive approach addressing the nexus between behavioral health and firearms safety.

...And this one
The task force is to consider the state’s full participation in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). While Rhode Island does require a NICS check for all gun sales, it does not contribute substance abuse or mental health information to the system. The legislation requires the panel to conduct a review of different states’ approaches for compliance with the NICS Index.

“This legislation is aimed at developing gun safety laws that balance public safety with individual rights, particularly those of people with behavioral health issues. There have been some serious tragedies involving people with behavioral health issues and guns, and there’s not going to be a quick fix to prevent more. We need the input of experts and we need to consider any changes in a deliberate, thoughtful way, with the needs of all Rhode Islanders represented,” said Representative Ruggiero (D-Dist. 74, Jamestown, Middletown).

Said Senator Cool Rumsey (D-Dist. 34, Exeter, Charlestown, Hopkinton, Richmond, West Greenwich), “We’ve seen the horrors that can happen in the extreme situations, and we can’t prevent them by doing nothing. But if we go looking for a quick fix, we are going to wind up infringing upon the rights of other gun owners who aren’t part of the problem. We want to come up with changes that will succeed without overreaching, so we need to be thorough and careful.”

The task force would include three members of the House of Representatives; three senators; two members to be selected by the governor; the attorney general or his or designee; the state court administrator or his designee; the director of the Department of Public Safety or his designee; the director of the Department of Environmental Management or her designee; the Director of the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals or his designee; the President of the Police Chiefs’ Association or his designee; the Mental Health Advocate or her designee; a public member representing mental health service providers; one of whom shall be a public member representing substance-abuse service providers; and three of whom shall be public members of the Federated Rhode Island Sportsmen’s Club, Inc.

The task force is required to report back to the governor and General Assembly before Jan. 1, 2014.

The legislation will be forwarded to the governor.