Three RI gun bills advance while another is withdrawn in protest

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“I am really disappointed for several reasons,” she told The Globe. “As you can see, (the amended bill) had nothing to do with the intent and terms of the original bill. It has had absolutely no impact on our attempt to reduce gun accidents and suicides like the original bill. “

Caldwell, a Democrat from East Greenwich, has been singled out even more on Twitter over the outcome of the gun bill negotiations.

“The reality is that this year we have unprecedented support in the chambers and in our state, but without consulting me or @gaylegoldin, the Senate godfather, three rich whites decided on a list of projects to gun law that gave as much to the NRA as it did to their majority, ”she said tweeted during the weekend.

House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi, a Democrat from Warwick, and Speaker of the Senate Dominick J. Ruggerio, a Democrat from North Providence, issued a joint statement on Monday, defending their agreement on the four bills on the fire arms.

“We consulted throughout the session with our members, Governor McKee and Attorney General Neronha, and our two judicial committees heard many hours of public testimony and reviewed thousands of emails submitted to the committees,” the leaders said. legislative. “Banning the purchase of straw is one of the attorney general’s highest priorities, and all four bills will have an impact.”

Legislative leaders can participate in any committee vote because of their office, and that dynamic proved to be decisive on Monday.

For example, the House Judiciary Committee voted 9-8 for the Straw Buyer Bill and the School Gun Bill, while Shekarchi and the majority leader in the House, Christopher J. Blazejewski, voted in favor and House Minority Leader Blake A. Filippi, against.

Meanwhile, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 7-5 for the school gun bill, with Ruggerio, Senate Majority Leader Michael J. McCaffrey and Majority Whip in the Senate Maryellen Goodwin in favor and Senate Minority Leader Dennis L. Alger and Senate Minority Whip. Jessica de la Cruz voting against. The committee voted 8-4 for the straw purchase bill, with support from Algiers.

Close votes were reflected in the committee debates.

For example, House Majority Whip Katherine S. Kazarian, a Democrat from East Providence, introduced a law prohibiting the possession of firearms in schools, except for peace officers, law enforcement officers. retired order, private security and unloaded firearms in locked containers or vehicles racks.

But Representative Arthur J. Corvese, a Democrat from North Providence, voted against the bill, saying, “This bill, in my opinion, is a solution to a problem that does not exist.

The bill would apply to people with transport permits who have gone through a “painstaking screening process” and are “law-abiding citizens,” Corvese said. “This does not apply to criminals or criminality,” he said. “It has no effect on individuals who intend to do something stupid.”

Representative Edith H. Ajello, a Democrat from Providence, spoke in favor of the bill.

“I remind my colleagues that the local police, the association of police chiefs, have asked us to adopt this,” she said. “They don’t want people with weapons concealed in schools who haven’t been trained with local police and who don’t know what the emergency protocols are.”

Ajello said someone with a concealed weapon “could become a danger to himself or to others if there were to be an active shooter situation.”

Ruggerio, who earned an “A” grade from the NRA, had made school bills “a priority for the Senate” during this legislative session. The bill is named after former Senator Harold M. Metts, a Democrat from Providence who had championed the legislation in the past but lost a Democratic primary in September.

In 2018, former Governor Gina M. Raimondo took executive action to ban guns in schools, but she too said codifying that ban into law should be a top priority this year.

Gun control advocates expected a warmer reception in the House than during the tenure of President Nicholas A. Mattiello, a Democrat who had obtained an “A” rating from the NRA and lost his seat. in the Cranston district in the November election. Shekarchi, who took office in January, received a “D” grade from the NRA.

Linda D. Finn, executive director of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence, said the coalition has supported banning guns in schools for years and that straw buying legislation will make a difference.

“These two are hard-hitting bills,” she said. “They will help keep our schools safe and allow law enforcement to know who is buying large quantities of firearms.”

But Finn said she was disappointed Rhode Island didn’t ban high-capacity magazines, as Massachusetts and Connecticut have. “It’s really disappointing,” she said. “This is the only bill that would really have a huge impact in the state.”

Finn said she was also disappointed that “they took the secure storage bill and emptied it” and instead tried to “give wealthy gun owners a tax credit for buy a gun safe “.

She said the Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence was essentially neutral on a bill, sponsored by Representative Stephen M. Casey, a Democrat from Woonsocket, that would require the attorney general to release a report on the total number of charges firearms carried and disposed of in state courts.

“On the one hand, it’s good to have more data,” said Finn. “But on the other hand, I think the premise that the attorney general doesn’t prosecute enough gun crimes isn’t really true.”

All three gun bills are expected to be tabled in the House and Senate on Wednesday.


Edward Fitzpatrick can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on twitter @FitzProv.



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