House Bill 7605 by state Representatives Grace Diaz (D-11), Mary Messier (D-62), Patrick O`Neill (D-59), Agostinho F. Silva (D-56) and Maria E. Cimini (D-7) and House Bill 7881 by Representatives Cimini, Edith H. Ajello (D-3), John M. Carnevale (D-13), Roberto DaSilva (D-63), and Anastasia Williams (D-9) could threaten youth shooters and hunters with criminal prosecution. Advertised as anti-crime/anti-gang bills, these bills would have serious implications for youth shooters. Both bills, which are nearly identical, have already had a committee hearing and testimony, but await further action. H.7881 is scheduled for another hearing this Tuesday, May 8, in the House Judiciary Committee and H.7605 could come up for another hearing at anytime.
While this legislation appears to make only a slight change in current law, it could have grave ramifications for those prosecuted under it. Currently, a youth is not in violation unless he possessed AND USED a firearm. If these bills are enacted into law, a minor could be prosecuted for possession of a firearm if borrowing a parent’s vehicle and pulled over with a gun in that vehicle. The law does not distinguish actual intent over legitimate use. This bill attempts to create exceptions, but those narrow exceptions would leave youth shooters vulnerable to prosecution.
The “use” of a firearm under current law clearly signaled intent, but by removing it, minors can be unjustly prosecuted. This legislation is a perfect example of an anti-gun bill that would do nothing to prevent crime and only put another overbroad and unnecessary law on the books. Similar legislation has been annually introduced and defeated in the Rhode Island General Assembly for several years, but proponents are pushing hard to adopt these bills this session.
Please contact members of the House Judiciary Committee TODAY and respectfully ask them to reject both H.7605 and H.7881. Contact information for committee members provided below.
|House Judiciary Committee|
Representative Edith H. Ajello (D-3), Chairman
Representative Michael J. Marcello (D-41), Vice Chairman
Representative Robert E. Flaherty (D-23), Secretary
Representative Christopher R. Blazejewski (D-2)
Representative Jon D. Brien (D-50)
Representative Michael W. Chippendale (R-40)
Representative Doreen Marie Costa (R-31)
Representative John J. DeSimone (D-5)
Representative Donald J. Lally Jr. (D-33)
Representative Charlene Lima (D-14)
Representative Peter F. Martin (D-75)
Representative Richard P. Morrison (D-68)
Representative J. Patrick O'Neill (D-59)
Representative Michael A. Tarro (D-8)