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Are mass shootings preventable in Rhode Island?

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Gang violence and active shooter situations are two very different problems. In Providence on Tuesday afternoon, at Mayor Jorge Elorza’s Advisory Council to Reduce Gun Violence, Providence Police Chief Hugh Clements presented stats that showed that “violent crime firearm activity” is very low. “A good trend,” said Clements. “Overall it’s pretty good. “We’re on our lowest numbers [in homicides] in decades.”

But, asked board member Pilar McCloud, what do we do about “rogue actors?”

“That’s a completely different approach,” said Clements.

“It’s almost impossible to stop somebody who is mentally ill from getting a gun and going into a mall or a church and start shooting,” said Public Safety Commissioner Steven Paré.

Clements has been working to supply at risk communities with active shooter training. He’s planning a city wide active shooter training.


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Board member Jordan Seabury added that studies indicate that statistically, the main driver behind mass shootings is the number of guns in a society. America has many more guns than any other country, and many more mass shootings as well.

Peter Asan provided a legislative update. Some of the major  gun control bills that did not pass the Rhode Island General Assembly were the “no guns in school” legislation and a bill codifying the laws as to whether a youth can possess a gun. Asan noted that a bill banning high-capacity magazines was unlikely to pass this next year.

Asan also noted that Representative Marcia Ranglin-Vassell (Democrat, District 5, Providence) is working on connecting young people with jobs as a solution to gun violence.

Other potential gun control legislation mentioned by Asan:

  • bump stocks and broader legislation against any modifications
  • legislation related to prevention of suicide through protective orders

Neither Clements nor Paré were aware of the term “bump stocks” before Las Vegas. Bump stocks allow the conversion of semi-automatic guns into fully automatic weapons.