The Rhode Island Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America held a press conference at the Rhode Island State House on Thursday, celebrating the imminent House passage of the red flag bill (H7688), that “would create a means for courts to disarm people whose behavior is believed by authorities to pose a serious threat to others or themselves.”
Shortly before Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo signed an executive order establishing a red flag policy, red flag legislation was introduced in the Rhode Island House of Representatives by Representative Dennis Canario (Democrat, District 71, Portsmouth, Tiverton, Little Compton) with the full support of Speaker Nicholas Mattiello (Democrat, District 15, Cranston). This legislation was passed out of the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday and was passed out of the House and onto the Rhode Island Senate on Thursday after a contentious floor debate. (See last video below)
“This year, we’re fortunate to live in a state with the first governor to sign an executive order establishing a red flag policy after the Parkland shooting,” said Jennifer Boylan, the volunteer legislative lead for Rhode Island Moms Demand. “Governor Raimondo acted immediately, prioritizing a common sense gun policy that will save lives. And the Rhode Island General Assembly now has the opportunity to pass a red flag law.”
Speaker Mattiello is a longtime supporter for gun rights, and has accepted thousands of dollars in campaign cash from the National Rifle Association (NRA). “This is a pragmatic, common sense law,” said Mattiello.
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Two years ago, the idea of Mattiello speaking at a Moms Demand press conference seemed ridiculous. (See: here and here.) The Speaker’s presence at this rally is a testament to the growing political power of gun control advocates in our state.
“As [the Speaker] said, last year was the domestic violence bill, this year is red flag and bump stocks and who knows? Maybe we’ll get to a full on military style weapon ban at some point,” said Governor Raimondo to the assembled Moms. “So keep going.”
Tara told a story that reflects the need for a red flag bill. She lost a friend to suicide, even though there were plenty of red flags to indicate what was coming. The event has haunted her for twenty years. It’s a powerful story:
“We must continue to protect Rhode Island by moving the following bills out of committee and onto the House floor for a vote,” said Representative Marcia Ranglin-Vassell (Democrat, District 5, Providence), a strong advocate for gun control. “We must pass the assault weapons ban. We must pass a School Safety Act bill. We must pass the high capacity magazine ban bill right away. And… we must pass a bill that I have recently introduced to make sure that teachers like myself do not bring guns to school.”
The challenge of passing the red flag bill is not over. After Central Falls Mayor James Diossa finished speaking, Boylan rallied her troops. There was still work that needed to be done in the Senate to ensure that the bill is brought to the Governor’s desk for her signature.
“That concludes our press conference today,” said Boylan. “We’re going to get ready to do some lobbying. So if there’s any press in the room, we’re going to do our lobbying training next…”
“We’re going to need you to leave,” said a voice from the crowd.
“Yeah,” said Boylan.
There was still work to do.
Here’s the video of the passage of the red flag bill on the House floor:
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