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Friday, August 12, 2022

We Can Do Better to Protect Our Community

Weapons of war don't belong in the hands of civilians

By Melissa Devine, Democratic candidate for House District 31

How is it that we live in a society in modern day America where reports of mass shootings have become commonplace, and we have become desensitized to see it only as an unavoidable reality in our daily lives?

Remarkably, it has sadly been a common news story since April of 1999, when a community in the mountain hills of Colorado was forever changed with the senseless, brutal slaughter of Columbine High School students. 

They, like most students, were simply looking forward to their lives ahead. 12 students and one teacher were killed that pivotal day with a trauma wave that rippled from close family and friends, outward into our daily American consciousness.

Here we are today more than twenty years later, and have made only reactionary administrative changes with little movement forward in keeping students and faculty safe, or our public places such as supermarkets, parades and outdoor venues secure from gun violence.

After that dark day in April of 1999, my cousin Molly who lives in Jefferson County, CO just a town over from Columbine, who at that time had 4 small children in school, decided to give them cell phones at a ridiculously young age. Why? Because she was convinced that they may need to call her if another shooting was happening.

Another cousin who lives in Las Vegas, has a colleague who was a part-time EMT and first responder at the Route 91 Harvest Festival concert massacre in 2017 where 59 people were murdered, and more than 400 people were injured.

While her friend’s EMT training had prepared her for typical festival type injuries: dehydration, heart attacks, cuts and bruises, was not something that anyone would anticipate witnessing in their own community. 

She and other staff were ill equipped to triage battle wound injuries like the woman who had been severely injured, shot in the head with multiple rounds from an AR-15 with her face exploding and her eyeball hanging from her head. The woman later died while her husband crouched next to her helplessly holding her hand. The part time EMT has since sought therapy for depression and anxiety.

These are just two examples of countless ways our reality and daily liberty to go about our days has been infringed upon. Why shouldn’t our laws be representative for the civil liberties of all people? While Second Amendment zealots will say it is their right to carry weapons of war, when did this absolute right become true?

Our forefathers, while taking time to pack and reload their muskets, could never have envisioned the destruction of military style high- capacity magazine weapons that could kill multiple targets in just seconds. Our technology has changed. Our reality and behaviors have changed, yet our policies and legislation have been slow to catch up.

My name is Melissa Devine, and as a Moms Demand Action candidate of distinction, I believe we can do better for our community. Sensible gun legislation along with other impactful issues, is why I have chosen to run for the General Assembly, House District 31-North Kingstown, Exeter.

Here are the topics I am concerned about, and will strongly legislate in favor of while in committee, and make every effort to bring these bills to the floor.

                   Sensible Gun Legislation: Gun violence and active shooter drills should not be what’s on a parent’s mind when they send their kids to school. As a Representative will continue to work on bills that protect the rights of all kids and faculty creating a safe environment in which they can focus and thrive.

                   Environmental and Climate Issues:  Environmental factors are already affecting everything in our state from clean air, the healthy vegetation on our property, to the temperature of Narragansett Bay.  Our good health and our property values are being affected as sea level rise and inland flooding encroaches upon our existing roads and bridges. Climate impacts are affecting the building codes for new building and home modification. Limiting single use plastic, looking at PFAS in our water supply and the creation of a bottle bill with satellite Food Pantry redemption locations are topics that I would like to advocate and create legislation for. 

                   Protection of Women’s Rights: There are major concerns about women and their fundamental right to control their own bodies and reproductive health care. Having passionately advocated at the State House to ensure the Woman’s Reproductive Privacy Act bill was codified into Rhode Island law in 2019. As a member of the legislature, I will continue to fight to keep these rights in place for all women and girls. 

                   Affordable and Sensible Elder Care: As the primary caregiver for both of my parents, I’ve experienced first-hand the challenges facing seniors who want to age in place. I’ll work to promote awareness of home modification options, and elder protections. I understand the significant role that access to affordable and accessible public transportation plays for any senior who cannot drive yet needs to access health care and daily services. 

                   STRONG PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Our children represent our future. I will advocate for better support for our schools, the foundation of our community. Given the major challenges and events of the last few years, it’s clear that we must advocate for mental health resources for our schools. 

Join me at the polls on Tuesday, SEPTEMBER 13.

Early voting at the town offices begins August 24, See for more dates.