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Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Rhode Island legislature must act

Illegal gun sales in RI, Kenosha shooter show need to address gun issues is as important as ever

As Rhode Island police attempt to sort out the case of a Providence man who they believe illegally sold dozens of firearms that he had reported stolen, and the nation learns more about the 17-year-old who apparently gunned down protestors in Kenosha, Wis., Rep. Justine Caldwell is calling for passage of her package of common-sense gun safety measures.

Representative Caldwell (D-Dist. 30, East Greenwich, West Greenwich) says the tragedy in Wisconsin and the cache of illegally sold weapons in Rhode Island just as a new wave of gun violence has erupted in Providence show that the need to address gun violence has not abated as the pandemic and racial inequity have dominated the nation’s attention.

“Gun violence is taking lives in this country every day. Inaction is compounding that tragedy.  Reducing access to the most lethal weapons, taking needless high-capacity magazines out of circulation and requiring safe storage are all ways we could save lives. Rhode Islanders deserve the protection that these bills would provide, and the sooner we take action, the more lives will be saved.”

Representative Caldwell’s bills, which she has introduced this year and last, would ban the sale and possession of assault-style weapons (2020-H 7263) and magazine clips that hold more than 10 rounds (2020-H 7364), and would require that firearms owners store all weapons in locked containers or render them inoperable while not in use (2020-H 7720). The bills were proposed by Gov. Gina Raimondo’s Gun Safety Working Group, established after the Parkland, Fla, school shootings, and by Attorney General Peter Neronha.

“Reducing the number of high-powered weapons that are legal reduces the number of them in circulation, making it more difficult to access them illegally as well,” said Representative Caldwell. 

“It shouldn’t be so easy for someone like the 17-year-old shooter in Wisconsin to get his hands on a semi-automatic weapon. More careful access laws would mean fewer of the most lethal weapons would be on the streets and available to those who use them criminally.”

Representative Caldwell said she is committed to working to gain passage for these bills, including working with gun rights advocates on their concerns. She recently visited a gun range in Rhode Island, fired weapons there and spoke with gun owners there to get their perspective.

“I am open to working with gun rights supporters to come up with a bill that tries to address their concerns while still accomplishing the crucial goal of limiting the damage that can be done with these weapons. I’m ready and willing to try to find areas of agreement with gun hobbyists who are open to discussion. But doing nothing is not an acceptable solution. Too much is at stake,” Representative Caldwell said.