Despite the fact that a majority of members of the Senate Judiciary Committee in Rhode Island are “A”-rated by the National Rifle Association, the panel approved a trio of gun control bills on Monday, while the sponsor of a fourth anti-gun proposal ended up yanking her bill from consideration after it was amended.
Rep. Justine A. Caldwell’s original bill mandated that all firearms be kept locked up while not in use or under the direct control of an authorized user, but was changed to instead provide tax credits for those who purchased gun safes. Caldwell dismissed the idea of encouraging responsible gun storage, apparently because she really likes the idea of criminalizing gun owners who don’t comply with her demands.
“I’m really disappointed for several reasons,” she told the Globe. “As you could see, (the amended bill) bore no relation to the intent and words of the original bill. It just absolutely did not have an impact on our attempt to reduce gun accidents and suicides, like the original bill.”
Caldwell, an East Greenwich Democrat, was even more pointed on Twitter about the outcome of gun bill negotiations.
“The reality is that this year we have unprecedented support in the chambers and in our state, but without consulting with me or @gaylegoldin, the sponsor in the Senate, three rich white guys decided on a slate of gun bills that gave as much to the NRA as it did to their majority,” she tweeted over the weekend.
I wish that was the reality of the legislative situation in Rhode Island. Instead, the Democrats in control of the state legislature are set to approve several measures that will impose new criminal penalties on legal gun owners, and I haven’t heard any Second Amendment supporter from the state crowing about how they ended up with a big win here.
Among the bills that are likely headed for final legislative approval are a measure that would require concealed carry licensees to disarm themselves, unload their firearm, and lock it away before driving on to school property to pick up their child.
As for the bill that purportedly bans “straw purchases,” the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action says the measure actually goes much further.
S.416/H.5386 is legislation that purports to outlaw straw purchases, which are already against the law. What this bill really does is create traps to ensnare those who might “transfer” firearms. Simply handing-off a gun from instructor to student could potentially result in serious legal jeopardy. The bill creates a new felony and would result in a lifetime gun ban.
This is another attempt by anti-gun politicians to make exercising your right to keep and bear arms a legally dangerous proposition; not to cut down on violent crime but to reduce the number of legal gun owners in the state.
Yes, I’m glad that the Democrats in charge in Rhode Island decided not to push for a magazine ban this session, but I’d hardly call the gun control bills that passed out of committee on Monday a “gift to the gun lobby.” Both the straw purchase bill and the ban on lawfully-possessed firearms on school grounds are going to have a much bigger impact on responsible gun owners than violent criminals, and though anti-gun advocates aren’t getting everything they wanted, unfortuntately they’ll still have plenty to crow about when the legislature wraps up this week.