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Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Time for Rhode Island to pass stronger gun laws

RICAGV calls for an end to holding gun bills “for further study”
Linda Finn, Executive Director, Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence 

Image result for gun nutsFollowing a horrific week of violence in cities across the country including Dayton, El Paso, and Chicago, Governor Raimondo spoke out about the lack of commitment to gun violence prevention from Rhode Island House and Senate Leadership.

In response, Speaker Mattiello and Senate President Ruggerio released a joint statement claiming “Rhode Island's gun control laws are among the strongest in the country.”

The unfortunate reality is that for years leadership has blocked legislation that would make the kind of massacres we saw in Texas and Ohio less likely in Rhode Island.

Rhode Island certainly gets some things right when it comes to gun violence prevention, including universal background checks, and we are grateful to the General Assembly for passing a strong domestic violence bill and a red flag bill in previous sessions.

These common sense laws are already saving lives in Rhode Island. But there is much that remains to be done, and Rhode Islanders are running out of patience with leadership in the General Assembly. 

Rhode Island still lags behind our immediate neighbors Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey who all have all passed assault weapon bans, making our state more vulnerable to mass shootings than others in our region.

And Rhode Island remains an outlier even compared to states with generally permissive gun laws like Texas in allowing the completely unregulated concealed carry of firearms in K-12 schools.

This past year Rhode Island General Assembly failed to allow a single vote on any gun violence prevention legislation, and year after year has allowed an assault weapon ban, a high capacity magazine ban, and a bill restricting the concealed carry of firearms in schools to die in committee.

The Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence has been fighting for passage of these bills since 2013, and we are not about to stop now. We are grateful to Governor Raimondo for being a strong advocate for these common sense bills, and join her in calling on the General Assembly to do more to prevent gun violence in Rhode Island now rather than waiting for the kind of tragic incident that has devastated communities in other states to happen here.

It is past time for state house leadership to make a real commitment to preventing gun violence by allowing votes on the assault weapons ban, high capacity magazine ban, and the Safe Schools act. 

Readers should contact their legislators in the General Assembly today and every day until the Speaker of the House and Senate President allow an up-or-down floor vote on these bills.
We are not expecting too much.

It only took legislators in New Zealand 26 days to enact an assault weapons ban following the Christchurch massacre.

It’s been six and a half years since the slaughter at Sandy Hook Elementary, and our legislature is still holding these bills for “further study.” The time for study is well past. The General Assembly must re-convene and pass these bills today.