On Tuesday, May 9, the House Judiciary Committee will meet upon rise of the House (approximately 4:30 p.m.) to debate H.5510 by Rep. Teresa Tanzi. This bill is disguised as a domestic violence bill and has been introduced by the one of the Legislature’s most anti-gun members.
Two weeks ago, this same panel debated over a dozen gun bills until 2:00am. H.5510 was separated from that agenda, perhaps signaling that lawmakers intend to pass this bill while the others were “held for further study.” Anti-gun groups aligned with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg have put this issue at the top of their agenda.
Domestic violence is abhorrent, and convicted violent abusers should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. However, rather than punish true abusers, H.5510 does nothing more than create potential traps and pitfalls for law-abiding gun owners. This legislation includes restraining orders for cases where there has been no finding of guilt. Cases of false accusations, while rare, do happen. However, under this bill, a person falsely accused could be facing a lifetime ban on a constitutional right with little or no due process. The bill will also lead to a host of other problems including who is going to pay for stored firearms, where and how they will be stored and no guarantees that property will be returned in good condition to vindicated owners.
Ultimately, H.5510 is completely unnecessary as federal and state law forbids convicted domestic abusers from possessing firearms. In addition, Rhode Island already has some of the toughest gun control laws in the country. Last year, the Legislature passed a felony domestic violence bill which mirrored federal law. The fact that gun control groups are back this year with another bill demonstrates the disingenuous nature of their agenda. Their real goal is to get rid of all firearms, and several of the witnesses donning red Bloomberg t-shirts testified to that fact.
It’s important that gun owners have a strong showing of opposition. Please try to attend the committee hearing, but regardless of whether you are able to attend, please contact your state Representative immediately and respectfully ask that they oppose this dangerous bill.