Measures to Curb Gun Violence Introduced in House


STATE HOUSE – House Majority Whip Katherine S. Kazarian and Rep. Justine Caldwell today introduced a package of bills intended to reduce gun violence in Rhode Island.

The bills would prohibit the possession of firearms on school grounds and ban the sale and possession of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. 

The legislation has broad support in the House, with more than half of the members of the House cosponsoring all the bills.

“Our nation has long been suffering crisis-level gun violence, and the pressures and fears associated with the pandemic have exacerbated it. Background checks for gun purchases have nearly doubled in Rhode Island in the last year. Providence experienced more than twice as many shootings in 2020 as the year before. With more guns, more families home, and more stress on people, accidental shooting death of children, gun suicides and domestic shootings are all expected to climb. This is absolutely the right time to take action on gun safety. It will save lives now,” said Representative Caldwell (D-Dist. 30, East Greenwich, West Greenwich). 

Representative Caldwell today introduced the Rhode Island Assault Weapons Ban Act to bar the sale and possession of assault weapons. It contains exceptions for law enforcement and military personnel, and would allow current assault weapons owners who pass a background check to keep the weapons they currently own.

The high-capacity magazines ban, also introduced by Representative Caldwell, would ban the sale and possession of devices capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

Representative Kazarian today introduced the bill to prohibit anyone from bringing a firearm onto school property except peace officers and persons approved by school authorities for the purposes of educational instruction.

The legislation would apply to the property of any public or private elementary or secondary school, including school buses. Violation could result in imprisonment for one to five years and a fine between $500 and $5,000.  Minors convicted of violations could also lose their drivers’ license for up to six months. Senate President Dominick Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence) has introduced similar legislation in the Senate.

“Our nation has suffered so many horrific and tragic school shootings. Every parent deserves an assurance that no one is allowed to enter their child’s school armed. Guns simply have no place in schools, and we shouldn’t accept a situation that allows anyone outside the police to carry them there,” said Representative Kazarian (D-Dist. 63, East Providence). “This legislation give schools the same protections already afforded to the Rhode Island Convention Center, our post offices as well as our very own State House.”

All the bills were recommended by Gov. Gina Raimondo’s Gun Safety Working Group and by Attorney General Peter Neronha following the mass school shooting in Parkland, Fla., in 2018. They are also supported by Lt. Gov. Daniel McKee, Attorney General Neronha, Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea and General Treasurer Seth Magaziner. Each of the bills was cosponsored by at least 38 members of the House, representing a majority of members.

“There is no one measure, or even set of measures, that will solve the gun violence problem facing this country,” said Attorney General Neronha. “This office is unique in Rhode Island in that we see the wreckage caused by gun violence every day, as we prosecute gun offenders and support their victims. These bills are common sense steps that lower the risk of gun violence and enhance the safety of all Rhode Islanders, and do so within the bounds of the Second Amendment. I am committed to continuing to advance gun safety measures in Rhode Island, and I was pleased to invite my fellow general officers to join us in support of these efforts this year.”

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