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Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Rhode Island needs to pass bills aimed at stopping mass shootings

Mass shootings should not be “normal” 

In the wake of the recent mass shootings in Atlanta and Boulder, Representatives Justine Caldwell (D-Dist. 30, East Greenwich, West Greenwich) and Jason Knight (D-Dist. 67, Barrington, Warren) called on the General Assembly to enact their two pieces of legislation targeted at preventing mass shootings like those and the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

“With vaccines rolling out, all of us are looking forward to Rhode Island and America getting back to normal. But Atlanta and Boulder remind us that before the pandemic upended our lives, mass shootings were normal in this country.

“We cannot accept this. Mass shootings do not have to be normal; America is the only country where they are. We know what we can do to make them less common and less deadly. We can create limits on the guns most often used to perpetrate them and on the high-capacity magazines used by shooters to inflict more damage faster,” said Representative Caldwell.

Mass shootings cause singular harm in their communities. They cause Rhode Islanders and Americans to be scared to go to movie theaters, to grocery stores, or to other locations where mass shootings have occurred.

Representatives Caldwell and Knight are sponsoring bans on the sale of assault weapons (2021-H 5556) and high-capacity magazines (2021-H 5554) because specific weapons are disproportionately used by shooters who want to inflict maximum damage on a large number of people gathering in public places.

“These weapons of war have no place on our streets, in our movie theaters, in our grocery stores. The interest gun owners claim in owning these weapons is vastly outweighed by the interest the public has in not facing them as we go about our daily lives. These common sense pieces of legislation from me and Representative Knight can save lives and make Rhode Islanders more secure as we live our lives. We must pass them during this session,” said Caldwell.

Although high-profile mass shootings like Atlanta and Boulder have been less prominent in the media during the COVID-19 pandemic, America’s epidemic of gun violence has gone on unabated. As the pandemic has altered Americans’ day-to-day lives,

Americans stocked up on guns, and predictably, violence increased. According to a Washington Post analysis of FBI NICS data, gun sales increased a whopping 64% in 2020 over 2019. And, predictably, gun violence also increased, with gun deaths leaping by 25% to a record-high 19,380, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

“Mass shootings are back, and we face a choice. We can go back to a day where we felt numb to them, or we can take decisive, evidence-based action to prevent them. The choice is easy. It requires standing up to the gun lobby and its blizzard of misdirection and misinformation. We in the Rhode Island General Assembly must be up to the task,” added Caldwell and Knight.