Rhode Island gun owners packed the Statehouse this week to voice loud opposition to the massive gun control package unveiled earlier this month by Governor Lincoln Chaffee (I), Attorney General Peter Kilmartin (D) and a handful of state lawmakers. The state Senate Judiciary Committee went into the early morning hours on Friday. Gun owners turned out en masse to make their voice heard, but we will need to sustain that effort as the action shifts to the state House this week.
On Wednesday, May 1, the state House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hear multiple firearm-related bills. Previously reported here, these anti-gun bills would remove Rhode Islander’s ability to defend themselves using the most effective means by banning popular and commonly owned semi-automatic rifles and standard capacity magazines that hold more than ten rounds. Also to be heard is legislation that would require all concealed carry licenses to be issued by the Attorney General. This change would cause the state of Rhode Island to become a “May-issue” state instead of a “Shall-issue” state further damaging the right to self-defense of law-abiding citizens.
Bills to be heard on Wednesday include:
House Bill 5576, sponsored by state Representative Maria Cimini (D-7), makes unlawful the possession of a firearm by a minor. Youth firearms possession is already addressed in both state and federal law, making this bill completely unnecessary. This legislation would do nothing except place honest law-abiding youth who enjoy hunting and the shooting sports in jeopardy of being prosecuted. While this bill is designed to combat gang violence and has some exceptions, it has glaring problems. Similar legislation has annually been defeated, and this version is just as bad as previous years.
House Bill 5990, sponsored by state Representative Joseph Almeida (D-12), imposes restrictions on the manufacture, transfer and possession of certain semi-automatic “assault weapons” and ban magazines containing more than ten rounds.
House Bill 5991, sponsored by state Representative Marvin Abney (D-73), increases the penalty for possessing a stolen firearm in the commission of a crime. The bill has the potential to ensnare someone who unknowingly buys a stolen firearm, and that transaction could include an FFL purchase because dealers are not allowed access to stolen firearms records to verify whether or not a gun is stolen.
House Bill 5993, sponsored by state Representative Larry Valencia (D-39), abolishes all “shall issue” carry permits issued by local law enforcement and grants the Attorney General sole issuing authority. The Attorney General permits are “may issue,” and this represents a serious attack on Rhode Island’s concealed carry law, moving the state to an exclusive “may issue” state.
House Bill 5994, sponsored by state Representative Gregg Amore (D-65), expands firearm possession disqualifiers to include misdemeanor offenses, whereas current law requires a felony conviction. It also removes the two-year window in current law which provides for rights restoration. This draconian bill is excessive and should be rejected.
House Bill 5208, sponsored by state Representative Grace Diaz (D-11), is similar to HB 5576 (listed above) and has been annually rejected. This bill should be opposed for the reasons previously detailed.
House Bill 5573, sponsored by state Representative Linda Finn (D-72), requires gun owners to register ALL of their firearms. Gun owners would be required to pay $100 per gun to register their firearms. This unconstitutional bill is an outright attack on gun ownership.
It is critical that you contact members of the state House Judiciary Committee and respectfully urge them to OPPOSE the Governor’s anti-gun legislation which would damage the rights of Rhode Islanders to defend themselves effectively.
House Judiciary Committee:
Representative Edith H. Ajello (D-3), Chairman
Representative John J. DeSimone (D-5), Vice Chairman
Representative Joseph S. Almeida (D-12)
Representative Christopher R. Blazejewski (D-2)
Representative Dennis M. Canario (D-71)
Representative Doreen Marie Costa (R-31)
Representative Robert E. Craven, Sr. (D-32)
Representative Donald J. Lally Jr. (D-33)
Representative Charlene Lima (D-14)
Representative Michael J. Marcello (D-41)
Representative Peter F. Martin (D-75)
Representative K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-23)
Representative Donna M. Walsh (D-36)