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Gun safety advocates celebrate passage of “red flag” and bump stock ban bills



“Our work is not done,” said Jennifer Boylan, volunteer leader for Moms Demand Action on Gun Sense in America. “Unfortunately gun violence is really complicated and there’s no one answer. There’s not even two or three answers like we now have two or three fantastic pieces of legislation here in Rhode Island. We have more work to do.”

Boylan was speaking at the Rhode Island State House signing ceremony for two bills aimed at preventing gun violence and mass shootings: “Red flag” legislation that allows courts to disarm individuals who are believed by law enforcement to represent a violent threat to themselves or others, and a ban on bump stocks and other rapid-fire gun modifications.

The third piece of legislation Boylan was alluding to is a bill signed into law last year that removes firearms from domestic abusers. Though the advocacy of Moms Demand Action, the Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence (RICAGV) and others have delivered success on these three bills, gun sense advocates are looking for more.

“I’m really hopeful that in the coming weeks – I’m not even going to say years because I don’t want to go out that far – but I’m hoping that this body will consider raising the age to buy a long gun from 18 to 21,” said Boylan to applause. “It’s common sense. Common sense. Teenagers shouldn’t have easy access to long guns.

“And for years there’s been legislation kicking around, being heard in committee over and over again, to limit capacity in high capacity magazines and to prohibit the sale of semi-automatic assault weapons. I’m hoping those are coming to our state sometime soon because we need a lot more solutions to curb gun violence.

“I’m very hopeful that Rhode Island will continue to be a leader. And also, the Safe Schools Act to keep concealed carry permit holders from carrying their loaded firearms in our schools.

“Today we celebrate the accomplishment of passing these two pieces of legislation,” said Boylan, “but the work never ends…”

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“Since I’ve been Governor, I’ve had to lower the state flag to half-staff 10 times because of mass shootings. The Red Flag Law and Bump Stock Ban will go a long way to prevent that kind of tragedy in Rhode Island and will make our state safer,” said Governor Gina Raimondo. “Rhode Islanders are not going to wait for Washington to take action on gun violence. I appreciate the General Assembly’s leadership to pass these bill and I’m proud to sign them to send a loud and clear signal that Rhode Islanders will not stand for gun violence.”

The bill signing:

Tara, a member of Moms Demand Action, started the event off with 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:

Speaker Nicholas Mattiello (Democrat, District 15, Cranston):

“With the enactment of this law, we are clearly stating that Rhode Island will not tolerate these dangerous tools of death. There is now no ambiguity; No one can buy, possess, attach or use a bump stock, trigger crank or binary crank in Rhode Island,” said Representative Robert Craven (Democrat, District 32, North Kingstown).

Senate President Dominick Ruggerio (Democrat, District 4, Providence):

“With this new law, we can truly prevent tragedies. People who are demonstrably unstable and are making serious threats should not be armed,” Senator Maryellen Goodwin (Democrat, District 1, Providence). “All too often after a mass shooting we learn about all the warning signs people saw from the shooter and wonder why they still had guns. Unfortunately, it’s frequently because there isn’t always a legal means to disarm them. Finally, here in our state and in others that have been adopting red flag laws, we will have a speedy but fair process to ensure that those who pose a legitimate risk do not remain armed.”

“These devices are all ways to get around the federal law that bans fully automatic weapons by making semi-automatic weapons fire almost as fast as them. Today, we stop this end run and ban these horrific devices in Rhode Island,” said Senator James Seveney (Democrat, District 11, Bristol, Portsmouth).

“The Rhode Island State Police strongly supports any legislation that will help us save lives,” Colonel Ann Assumpico, Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police and Director of the Department of Public Safety. “These two new laws will help us in our efforts to keep deadly weapons out of the hands of dangerous individuals who pose a threat to our troopers, other law enforcement officers and the communities we are sworn to protect.”

Jamestown Police Chief Edward Mello also spoke.

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About the Author

Steve Ahlquist is Uprise RI's co-founder and lead reporter. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade.