Rhode Island Lawmakers Take Up Gun, Magazine Ban Bills

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

Thanks to the defeat of the (relatively) pro-2A Democratic speaker of the House last November, gun control activists in Rhode Island are salivating over the prospects of passing new bans on commonly-owned arms, and anti-gun lawmakers are ready to get started. A hearing in the House Judiciary Committee today is expected to include testimony on a number of gun control bills, including AR-15s and other modern sporting rifles along with ammunition magazines that can accept more than ten rounds of ammunition.


With the statehouse closed to the public, today’s hearing is going to happen virtually, and with hundreds of citizens signing up to testify, committee chairman Robert Craven says those folks are going to be limited to just 75 seconds of speech.

“We intend to make our hearings fair and equitable to both sides: those opposed to gun control, as well as those advocating for it,” said Craven. “This is my ninth session as a member of the Judiciary Committee, and my third as chair. The procedures in place are the same that have been used previously for bills pertaining to the Second Amendment. The only difference now is that due to COVID-19 safety protocols, the State House is closed to the public. Instead of testifying in person, individuals are testifying virtually.

“Based on the significant number of individuals already signed up to testify, it is clear that the pandemic is not prohibiting our constituents from making their voices heard,” said Craven. “We welcome feedback from the public, and in order to ensure the hearings are as efficient as possible – and that everyone who wants to be heard has the opportunity to do so – we are making sure the public is aware of the guidelines for testimony. Members of the committee carefully read all written testimony, and it is a very effective way to inform them of your views.”


Yeah, I don’t think there’s any way I could adequately express all of the reasons for my opposition to these bills in just over a minute, so if I lived in Rhode Island I would definitely be following up my 75 seconds of speaking with a lengthier email to committee members.

Besides the gun and magazine ban bills, the committee will hear testimony on several other pieces of gun-related legislation, both good and bad.

* 2021-H 5554, sponsored by Rep. Justine A. Caldwell (D-Dist. 30, East Greenwich, West Greenwich), bans firearm magazines that hold 10 or more rounds.
* 2021-H 5555, sponsored by House Majority Whip Katherine S. Kazarian (D-Dist. 63, East Providence), prohibits the possession of firearms on school grounds except for peace officers, retired law enforcement officers, persons under contract to provide school security services, and unloaded firearms in locked containers or a locked rack on motor vehicles.
* 2021-H 5556, sponsored by Representative Caldwell, bans the possession, sale, and transfer of assault weapons.
* 2021-H 5639, sponsored by Rep. Joseph J. Solomon, Jr. (D-Dist. 22, Warwick), allows reciprocal concealed carry permits from out of state to be valid in Rhode Island, which is either authorized by the Attorney General or subject to other reciprocal restrictions.
* 2021-H 5882, sponsored by Rep. David J. Place (R-Dist. 47, Burrillville, Glocester), amends the definition of firearms to include tasers, as well as define taser and stun gun.
* 2021-H 5971, sponsored by Rep. Thomas E. Noret (D-Dist. 25, Coventry, West Warwick), creates an appeal for applicants denied a concealed firearms permit/firearms transfer with the right to a Superior Court hearing with all records deemed as non-public records.


With now-former governor Gina Raimondo off to serve in the Biden administration, Democrat Daniel McKee has gone from serving as lt. governor to chief executive in the state, and he’s already expressed his support for the gun and magazine bans, as well as the ban on legal gun owners having their gun on them when they go to pick up their kids from school.

The gun control legislation being heard today has been introduced in various forms in the state for several years, but Nicholas Mattiello, the former Speaker of the House, was opposed to the bans and was helpful in blocking their progress. The Democrat was ousted in his race for reelection last November in favor of a Republican, however, and new Speaker Joe Shekarchi has no problem whatsoever with the proposed bans, and the gun control legislation could easily sail through the Democrat-dominated legislature.

If and when that happens, expect a resurgence of interest in Second Amendment Sanctuary resolutions in the state, but gun owners and Second Amendment activists will be raising their voices in opposition today, hoping to keep the bad bills from becoming bad laws. I wish them the best of luck, and I hope that they put the 75 seconds of allotted speaking time to good use.


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