Rhode Island Mandatory Storage Bill Up for Vote Today

AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File

The state of Rhode Island isn't typically mentioned in the same breath as other anti-gun states, but it probably should be. It's been hostile toward the right to keep and bear arms for ages now, but it's also been fairly quiet on the anti-gun front for the last few years.

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And since some western states have counties bigger than the entire state--and the city of Anchorage is larger as well, for the record--it's easy to completely forget about Rhode Island.

But that doesn't mean Rhode Island has forgotten about infringing on the right to keep and bear arms.

In fact, at some point today, there will be a vote in the House on a mandatory storage bill.

here is movement, but no agreement yet, between Rhode Island legislators on the wording of a bill to require the "safe storage" of firearms.

It is the most significant, and maybe the only, gun control measure state lawmakers are likely to pass this year. The latest House version has been scheduled for a committee vote on Thursday.

Why it matters:

Grief-stricken family members have come to the State House year after year to plead for passage of some version of the bill, including the parents of Dillon Viens, the Johnston teenager who died in 2022 at the hands of a friend showing off his uncle's unlocked guns, andthe South Kingstown councilwoman who lost her sister to suicide.

Passage of a safe-storage requirement akin to the law in Massachusetts was recommended by a 2018 gun safety task force. But gun rights owners were successful until this year in blocking its passage, which now appears close.

The problem: the current House version does not word-for-word match the version the Senate passed earlier this year.

Asked on Tuesday if House and Senate negotiators on the safe-storage bill were now in agreement, both Senate spokesman Greg Pare and House spokesman Larry Berman said: "We are working towards it."

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One major issue is that Rhode Island already has penalties for people who fail to secure their guns, but only if something happens as a result. In other words, they're penalized for what happens and not the failure to lock the gun up itself.

And we know how anti-gunners feel about that, don't we?

This particular measure does allow guns to be unsecured if they're being worn or otherwise under the direct, physical control of the owner. At least for now.

While there are some discrepancies between the two measures, I'd be very surprised if they're not worked out and this bill end up on the governor's desk, where it will be signed.

Yet the truth of the matter is that increasing penalties or anything else won't solve the underlying issue. A lot of people in Rhode Island won't even know that they're required to secure the gun in the first place. We know this because it's already the law and we have people pushing for more regulation because someone didn't have their guns locked up.

I can't help but think that part of the reason for these tragedies, however, is that guns have been so demonized that they become attractive to kids. "We're not supposed to touch this, so that makes it so much cooler than it would be."

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Don't lie, you were the same way as a kid. We all tended to be, even if we actually followed the rules.

I'm not sure when the vote will happen, but I expect it'll pass and then the two chambers will have a chat about how best to screw over Rhode Island gun owners.

As is the way of their people.

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