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The dark art of defending domestic abusers’ right to a gun, Part II



“Berta’s family, friends, and the community deserve to know: How did Oscar have access to a firearm, despite having a domestic violence history?”

Four years the Rhode Island General Assembly was considering a law that would prohibit “any individual convicted of domestic violence or subject to a restraining order from possessing a firearm.” That law did not pass in 2015, in part due to the advocacy of the Second Amendment Coalition and the lobbyist and president, Frank Saccoccio, but it did pass in 2017. Since then, Saccoccio has become a municipal court judge in Cranston, and lost his job as Johnston’s assistant city solicitor.

As I reported in 2015, Saccoccio played up the fact that he was “very familiar with the domestic violence issues and what actually comes in front of District Court…” and implied that this was because of his prosecutorial experience. “I’ll try to give you my perspective,” said Saccoccio, “that I see each and every week in the court system…”

It turns out that it wasn’t so much Saccoccio’s prosecutorial experience that gave him insights into domestic abuse cases as it was his private practice experience defending those accused of domestic abuse. In his job at Comerford & Saccoccio, Attorney Saccoccio advertised on his (now defunct) website that, “If you have been accused of domestic violence, you can be arrested on the spot. At Comerford & Saccoccio, we will work hard to get you out of jail and immediately begin building your defense.”

All people accused of crimes are entitled to a rigorous defense, including Oscar Hudson, a client of Saccoccio who was charged on April 4 of this year with one count of criminal domestic violence. Hudson entered a not guilty plea, released on bail, and given a no contact order, meaning he was not to approach the complaining witness, his wife, Berta Hudson.

On July 17 Oscar Hudson was found guilty, and appealed the decision on July 22. Only July 25 there was a second charge brought against him, with a pretrial hearing set for next month.

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But that trial won’t happen, because Oscar Hudson reportedly killed Berta Hudson with a handgun on Saturday, and then killed himself.

Tanya Harris, executive director of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV), writes:

“There are several laws in place in Rhode Island that require criminal background checks before the purchase of a gun, and the surrendering of firearms when a person is convicted of a domestic violence crime. The presence of a firearm in a domestic violence situation makes a homicide five times more likely. We must do all we can to ensure guns do not reach the hands of abusers in the first place, and stay out of their possession.

“Berta’s family, friends, and the community deserve to know: How did Oscar have access to a firearm, despite having a domestic violence history?”

Providence Police told NBC 10 they’re working to figure out how Hudson managed to obtain a gun and who it belonged to.

When I wrote the piece on Saccoccio in 2015, my editor at RI Future, Bob Plain, titled the piece, “The dark art of defending domestic abusers’ right to a gun.”

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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.