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Editorial & Opinion

RICAGV: Pro-gun scare tactics lead to surge in RI gun sales and gun violence

Our gun background checks were up 211.07% during 2020.
We also saw the shocking 87% increase in gun deaths and 25% increase in gun injuries in 2020 over 2019, which is the inevitable outcome of the skyrocketing surge in gun sales.



The nation watched the violent occupation of the United States Capitol in disbelief and horror on January 6, 2021, but the worst may be yet to come. The FBI is warning of further imminent armed attacks on the Capitol and the State Houses of all 50 States. Rhode Island gun safety advocates see disturbing parallels with the recent violence in Washington DC and the aggressive rhetoric and tactics employed by far-right-activists at our State House and in city and town councils in recent years. Insurrectionism is regularly encouraged by the NRA and its top leaders, with calls to purchase firearms and ammunition to protect liberty and fight against government tyranny. A mob of thousands stormed the United States Capitol echoing the NRA’s long-standing message of armed revolution and calls for civil war.

The combination of pro-gun activists and anti-government groups, backed by local and national gun lobbies, continues to play a big role in the disturbing escalation of violent, eliminationist rhetoric in our state as well. From their loud and abusive behavior at State House rallies, to their threats of violence at RIGA hearings, to the Sanctuary Resolutions in towns throughout the state, these extremists pose a serious threat to both the safety of our elected officials as well as the general public.

Fortunately, Rhode Island is not one of the 18 states that allow members of the public to carry guns inside its State House, but the threat of violence hangs heavier in the air every year as we come together to debate changes to our gun laws to keep all Rhode Islanders safer.

Rhode Island is second only to Michigan in the massive surge in 2020 NICS background checks, a leading indicator of gun sales. Our gun background checks were up 211.07% during 2020.
We also saw the shocking 87% increase in gun deaths and 25% increase in gun injuries in 2020 over 2019, which is the inevitable outcome of the skyrocketing surge in gun sales.

Now is the time to de-escalate hate by regulating the sale of military-style weapons and high-capacity magazines that can hold up to 100 rounds of ammunition and can be emptied in a matter of minutes.

We all need to respect the rights enshrined in both our federal and state Constitutions, but we don’t need to be held hostage by radical gun extremists. The Supreme Court has upheld laws in states that ban assault weapons and regulate the sale of ammunition for these weapons. A new majority of both Rhode Island Senators and Representatives support changes needed to make us safer.

Please refer to our website for our latest blog posts on these issues:

About the Author

The Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence is an organization that was created by concerned citizens of Rhode Island. The organization came to be in 2013 after the Rhode Island General Assembly failed to pass common sense gun legislation. We recognize gun violence as a public health issue. Using common sense means and methods, we seek to reduce injuries and deaths from gun violence.

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