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RI elected leaders favor AG’s package of gun safety legislation

“Policy is just one piece of the puzzle, but a crucial one nonetheless,” said Nwando Ofokansi, a public health organizer. “These pieces of legislation that we are here to discuss today are an important step in making our communities safer. These are not anti-gun or anti-second amendment legislations. They are about responsible gun ownership, safe gun access, and harm reduction.”
Photo for RI elected leaders favor AG’s package of gun safety legislation

Published on June 9, 2021
By Steve Ahlquist

The Campaign for Gun Violence Prevention Rhode Island (CGVPRI) held a rally outside the Rhode Island State House on Tuesday that was attended by Rhode Island Governor Daniel McKee, Lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos, Attorney General Peter Neronha, General Treasurer Seth Magaziner and Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea.

Speakers included Representative Justine Caldwell (Democrat, District 30, East Greenwich) and Senator Gayle Goldin (Democrat, District 3, Providence), who have long been advocates for gun safety legislation. All the speakers called on Senate and House leadership to pass the Attorney General’s package of gun safety legislation before the legislative session ends for the year. The legislation is supported by more than half of the members of each chamber.

Notably absent were Speaker of the House Joseph Shekarchi (Democrat, District 23, Warwick) and Senate President Dominick Ruggerio (Democrat, District 4, Providence), the two elected leaders with the power to bring the bills to the floor for passage.

The event was held on the north side of the State House, and there was sparse opposition to the rally. Two members of the public opposed to the new gun laws watched quietly nearby, and Representative Justin Price (Republican, District 39, Richmond, Exeter, Hopkinton) positioned himself so that the press could be sure that he did not approve of the proposed legislation.

Justin Price

The legislation:

  • H5554 / S0414 – would prohibit high-capacity magazines. CGVPRI says that “prohibiting high-capacity magazines can help save lives in Rhode Island. High-capacity magazines are commonplace in mass shooting incidents and make instances of everyday gun violence exceptionally deadly. By increasing the number of bullets a shooter can fire without reloading, HCMs make firearms more lethal. Prohibitions on HCMs can help prevent devastating mass shootings and lessen the lethality of other acts of gun violence.”
  • H5386 / S0028 – would combat gun trafficking and straw purchases by “identifying and holding accountable those who fuel the marketplace of illegal guns by purchasing guns on behalf of other people, making bulk purchases tied to subsequent illegal sales, and purchasing guns for people they know or should know are prohibited from possessing them,” says CGVPRI.
  • H5556 / S0415 – would restrict the possession and use of assault weapons. “Assault weapons are commonplace in mass shootings and make shootings more lethal,” says CGVPRI. “Research shows that restrictions on assault weapons can help prevent mass shooting injuries and fatalities as well as reduce the devastation of daily gun violence.”
  • H5555 / S0073 closes “a dangerous gap in current Rhode Island law which allows anyone who has a valid concealed carry permit to carry hidden, loaded guns in K-12 schools,” says CGVPRI.
  • H5969 / S0417 prohibits the open carry of loaded rifles and shotguns in public. “Open carry is a threat to public safety and is often used by armed extremists and members of hate groups as a show of intimidation,” maintains the CGVPRI.
  • H5553 / S0413 requires all firearms to be securely stored when they are not in use. “Research shows that securing firearms protects children and adults by preventing unintentional shootings and gun suicides,” says CGVPRI.

The rally began with an introduction by Linda Finn, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence (RICAGV).

“We recognize that gun violence is a complex issue that requires a multifaceted approach,” said Nwando Ofokansi, a public health organizer and co-founder of the Woonsocket Alliance to Champion Hope, the WATCH Coalition. “Policy is just one piece of the puzzle, but a crucial one nonetheless. These pieces of legislation that we are here to discuss today are an important step in making our communities safer. These are not anti-gun or anti-second amendment legislations. They are about responsible gun ownership, safe gun access, and harm reduction.”

Rhode Island Governor Daniel McKee:

Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha:

Rhode Island Lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos:

Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea:

Rhode Island General Treasurer Seth Magaziner:

Rhode Island Senator Gayle Goldin (Democrat, District 3, Providence):

Rhode Island State Representative Justine Caldwell (Democrat, District 30, East Greenwich):

“The risk to other people close to the domestic violence victim also heightens with access to a firearm,” said Tonya King Harris, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV). “In the RICADV’s ​report on domestic violence homicides in Rhode Island, every bystander who was murdered during an attack on a domestic violence victim was killed with a gun, including children at the scene. We urge our Rhode Island legislators to pass these critical gun safety bills this year, limiting the easy access of these deadly weapons and keeping our communities safe and healthy for our neighbors and families. Rhode Island lives depend on this.”

Nwando Ofokansi
Linda Finn

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