Three House bills introduced to protect public from those who possess guns illegally
STATE HOUSE — Following through on plans announced on the opening day of session, House leaders and members have introduced legislation designed to protect the public from people who are not law-abiding citizens and who possess guns illegally.
The package of bills, which was introduced on Tuesday, would amend background check laws, ban 3D printed guns and ghost guns, and implement a statewide computer records management system.
“While I strongly support Second Amendment rights, we need to get guns out of the hands of those with mental illness, as well as those who don’t follow the laws,” said Speaker of the House Nicholas A. Mattiello (D-Dist. 15, Cranston), reiterating remarks he made on the opening day of session. “This package of bills does a good job of balancing gun rights with our obligation to keep the public safe from those who are mentally ill and those who choose not to abide by the law. These bills will work in conjunction with the Red Flag Law we enacted in 2018.”
The first bill (2020-H 7101), sponsored by Speaker Mattiello, would implement a statewide public safety computer aided dispatch records management system to integrate all of Rhode Island’s police departments, including the State Police. It will allow easy communication and the sharing of information among each of the state’s law enforcement agencies. The bill has the support of the State Police and the Rhode Island Chiefs of Police Association.
The second bill (2020-H 7102) is an update of legislation filed by Rep. Patricia Serpa (D-Dist. 27, West Warwick, Coventry, Warwick). It would prohibit the manufacturing, importation, sale, shipment, delivery, possession, or transfer of any ghost gun or firearm that is undetectable by metal detectors commonly used at airports and public buildings, including 3D printed firearms.
“While I am a strong proponent of people’s right to bear arms, these devices simply lack the safety, reliability and accountability of conventional firearms and have become a menace to society,” said Representative Serpa.
The third bill (2020-H 7103A), introduced by Rep. Daniel P. McKiernan (D-Dist. 7, Providence), would require gun sellers to forward firearm applications to the police department of the city or town where the buyer resides, or to the State Police if the buyer is a resident of Exeter, since the town has no local police department.
The bill comes in the wake of an incident last month where a resident of Westerly purchased a gun from a firearms dealer in Richmond and used it to kill the manager of an affordable housing complex.
Although Richmond Police conducted background checks, they were not aware that the buyer had a history with Westerly Police, including threats to buy a gun to kill himself and his estranged wife, which led to a stay at Butler Hospital.
“This is a simple matter of improving communication between law enforcement agencies,” said Representative McKiernan. “Local police departments are much more likely to have information regarding the mental health of a potential gun buyer. If there are concerns for the safety of the purchaser or others, then the police in the gun buyer’s community can take steps to keep the other agencies notified and potentially avert another tragedy.”
All three bills have been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
For more information, contact:
Daniel Trafford, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903