12 lives were lost on Friday after a shooter fired shots in a municipal building in Virginia Beach. The gunman, who opened fire after emailing a letter of resignation to his boss, was fatally shot during law-enforcement intervention. The shooter used a legally purchased .45 caliber pistol that had multiple empty extended magazines attached. The Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence (RICAGV) knows that while we have become numb to these incidents, we must remain more vigilant than ever to prevent them and call on the Rhode Island legislature to schedule a vote on this legislation that has languished now for six years in a row.
These lives were taken because anyone can add extended magazines to a handgun turning it into a more lethal killing machine. It was reported that due to the use of a suppressor and an extreme amount of ammunition, it took four law enforcement officers to stop the shooter in what was described as a “long gun fight” resulting in the municipal offices looking like a “war zone.” In Rhode Island, the RICAGV continues to advocate for policies like the High Capacity Magazine Ban (H5739 and S0637) which would eliminate sales of magazines over ten rounds.
Introduced by Representative Justine Caldwell (Democrat, District 30, East Greenwich) and Senator Gayle Goldin (Democrat, District 3, Providence), these bills would limit the sale of magazines to ten rounds or less. In a review of 62 mass shootings between 1982 and 2012, large capacity ammunition magazines were recovered in 50 percent of them. 9 states currently ban high capacity magazines including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Vermont.
On Saturday, the @RICAGV1 tweeted “extended magazines were used in yesterday’s shooting. These make firearms more lethal. Time to ban them in RI. 75 percent of Rhode Islanders support this.”
Representative Michael Chippendale (Republican, District 40, Coventry, Foster Glocester) immediately responded with an inappropriate comment tweeting a “meme” of a Kermit the Frog biting his fingernails with the caption “OH NO…”
The Representative later deleted his tweet. Representative Chippendale’s action prove an unrelenting disregard for victims of violence and their families. He advances the false narrative that the Second Amendment is at risk, making law-abiding gun owners feel threatened and contributing to the sort of hysteria that leads many to vociferously oppose any measure at all that regulates gun possession, no matter the weapon, accessory or the threat to public safety.
We have seen time and time again that the NRA and the gun lobby in Rhode Island will defend a right that they are not guaranteed by the Second Amendment or the Constitution to a fault. The Coalition hopes that the legislature will be motivated by this tragic shooting to act and pass the High Capacity Magazine Ban this year.