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Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Action to take guns from domestic abusers stalled by Mattiello adjournment of General Assembly

House OKs domestic violence gun safety measure

Image result for guns and domestic violence
But Representatives Flip Filippi and Justin Price are OK with that.
With a 55-12 vote, the House approved Rep. Teresa Tanzi’s legislation to protect victims of domestic violence by disarming abusers. The bill will now go to the Senate.

EDITOR’S NOTE: local state Representatives Blake “Flip” Filippi of Charlestown and Justin “I Love the Militia” Price of Richmond were among the few state reps to vote to allow domestic abusers to keep their guns.

The Protect Rhode Island Families Act (2017-H 5510A), which would take effect July 1 (but obviously it will be later), would prohibit gun possession by domestic abusers convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence crimes and those subject to court-issued final protective orders and ensure that all those subject to the prohibition actually turn in their guns when they become prohibited from possessing them.

“This bill is targeted so it respects the Second Amendment and does not harm law-abiding gun owners, while getting guns out of the hands of those who are a threat to the safety of their previous victims,” said Representative Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, South Kingstown, Narragansett). “We want people who are in an abusive relationship to know that when they find the courage to stand up to their abuser, the State of Rhode Island is standing with them and offering the protection they deserve.”

Under current Rhode Island law, abusers convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence crimes and abusers who are subject to final restraining orders are not always prohibited from  possessing guns nor are they always required to surrender their firearms once they become  prohibited. 

Federal law already prohibits most of those convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors from owning guns, but Rhode Island does not have a mechanism for requiring hey actually turn them in.

According to research by Everytown for Gun Safety, only five percent of domestic abusers under a final protection from abuse order in Rhode Island are required to turn in their guns. 

Even in cases when the restrained party’s record indicated a firearms threat, surrender is ordered only 13 percent of the time.

This bill would close these loopholes by requiring that abusers are prohibited and required to turn in their guns once they become prohibited from possessing them.

It would require those subject to a protective order (not a temporary restraining order, but a final, court-ordered restraining order, issued after a hearing when both sides can tell their stories), to turn over any gun they possess either to police or a licensed gun dealer within 48 hours of the order’s effect, and bars them from obtaining or possessing guns until the order is no longer in effect.

Those convicted or pleading to a crime of domestic violence would have 24 hours to turn in any guns they possess. 

The act would apply to domestic violence crimes including assault, cyber-stalking and cyber-harrassment, violation of a protective order and disorderly conduct if the criminal act involves the use or attempted use of force or the threatened use of a dangerous weapon.

Similar laws prohibiting gun possession by those convicted of misdemeanor domestic abusers exist in 27 states plus Washington, D.C., including Alabama, Texas, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire.

According to the advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety, when a gun is present in a domestic violence situation, the woman is five times more likely to be killed. Guns are the preferred weapon of intimate partner homicides. 

Between 1990 and 2005, more intimate partner homicides in the United State were committed with guns than all other weapons combined. Between 1980 and 2016, 232 Rhode Islanders died as a result of domestic violence, and 48 percent of them were killed with guns.

The bill is cosponsored by Rep. Gregg Amore (D-Dist. 65, East Providence), Rep. Kathleen A. Fogarty (D-Dist. 35, South Kingstown), Rep. Deborah Ruggiero (D-Dist. 74, Jamestown, Middletown) and Rep. Shelby Maldonado (D-Dist. 56, Central Falls).

Similar legislation (2017-S 0405) has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Harold M. Metts (D-Dist. 6, Providence).