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Raimondo signs the Protect Rhode Island Families Act into law



Jennifer Boylan and Teresa Tanzi

“At last, victims of domestic abuse in Rhode Island will not have the constant fear of knowing that the person who abused them still has a gun,” said Representative Teresa Tanzi (Democrat, District 34, South Kingstown, Narragansett). “We’ve heard countless stories from victims about flagrant threats and ceaseless fear. And we know that the presence of a gun greatly increases the chances of a domestic violence victim being murdered. We’ve worked very hard to get to this point, and the reward will be greater safety for Rhode Island families.”

Tanzi was speaking at the ceremonial signing of the Protect Rhode Island Families Act (2017-H 5510Baa, 2017-S0405Aaa), a bill she has fought for for three years in the Rhode Island General Assembly. the room was full of people wearing red Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and orange Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence tee shirts.

Giovanna Rodriguez of SOAR (Sisters Overcoming Abusive Relationships) introduced Governor Gina Raimondo, who was eager to sign a bill she long supported. “But there’s more to do,” said the Governor. “Let’s take this and keep going. Let’s take this and have national common sense gun reform. Let’s take this and ban military style weapons, like many of our neighbors have done.”

As the audience applauded Raimondo’s call to dis-arms, Speaker of the House Nicholas Mattiello stayed silent in his chair, not clapping.

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“I don’t view this as a gun bill,” said Mattiello. “I view this as a domestic violence bill that gives law enforcement the tools to protect people that are in very vulnerable situations.”

Teresa Tanzi earned forty seconds of standing applause  from those assembled for her work in bringing the bill into law. “I officially have goosebumps,” she said.

Tanzi quoted Jennifer Boylan, an activist who has worked tirelessly to get this bill passed. “Hope is the light that keeps us going in the direst of times, and for victims of domestic abuse, hope is everything. Let this be the year this state passes this common sense law, and lives up to its legacy of providing a safe harbor for those who need it most. We owe domestic violence victims hope, and so much more.”

Tanzi thanked the Rhode Island Chapter of Moms Demand Action, Everytown for Gun Safety, the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence, as well as the faith leaders, law enforcement and the mayors who supported the bill.

“Finally, I want to say thank you to the survivors,” said Tanzi, “Thank you for courageously testifying, and sharing your stories time and again. This wasn’t just once that you had to open yourselves up and pour yourselves out for all to see. Thank you, for never giving up hope. And if there’s ever a day in your future, when you find yourselves questioning whether you have the strength to get up, to face the day or face the world, I want you to close your eyes, and think back to this day. To this moment, and this room.

“And I want you to remember all of the love and the support and the joy that’s in here right now that you helped to create. We never could have done this without your bravery and for that I am eternally grateful.”