Gun laws on open carry, age, high capacity magazines


PROVIDENCE — Out of the gun tragedies of recent weeks has come an apparent agreement in the leadership ranks of the Rhode Island legislature to pass three high profile gun bills,including a ban on large capacity magazines.

The three bills the House Judiciary Committee has posted for votes on Thursday include measures to: 

It is not yet clear if there will be any additional amendments between now and Thursday.

Also unclear initially: whether the Senate leadership team had been able to line-up the votes needed to pass the package in the Senate Judiciary Committee, where a majority of the members had “A”’ rating s from the NRA in 2020.

But Senate spokesman Greg Pare conveyed this late-day message on Tuesday: “We expect that the Senate Judiciary Committee will post later today for a vote on Tuesday. The Senate President supports the bills and we expect that they will receive committee approval.”

Added  House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi: “The House and Senate has been working very closely together on this issue.  I support the three bills that have been posted in the House Judiciary Committee.”

In response to the postings, R.I. Gov. Dan McKee Tweeted: “It’s time for action. Pass these bills. I’m ready to sign.”

“We are thrilled that a vote is scheduled for these bills which will protect our children, our families, and our communities from gun violence,” said Sydney Montstream-Quas,the chair of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence of the House postings on Tuesday afternoon..

And “we are grateful that Speaker Shekarchi is willing to move these lifesaving bills this session. Tolerating the status quo of gun violence is not an option.”

This, however, was the response from Frank Saccoccio, the lead lobbyist for the R.I. 2nd Amendment Coalition to a Journal inquiry:  “No comment.”

The R.I. Firearm Owners’ League followed with this Facebook alert to its followers:  “There you have it. Magazine confiscation in Rhode Island will start in roughtly 180 days.”

Added the R.I. Revolver and Rifle Association:

“As you are watching your rights be tossed away with the stroke of a pen….remember we still have 36 House seats running UNOPPOSED and 21 Senate Seats UNOPPOSED! We need candidates to run against these progressives!”

The posting of the three gun bills for votes follows opposing State House rallies last week by advocates on both sides of the gun divide. They also come one day after New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a new law banning people under 21 from buying semi-automatic weapons.

Not every bill in the five-bill package hailed by gun control advocates made it to the House Judiciaery calendar. A proposed assault weapons ban – and a bill requiring the safe locked storeage of firearms when they are not in use – did not make it.

But the bills that did make it represent three of the top-five prorities, cited by the phalanx of legislators, statewide officers and union leaders who gathered at the State House last week to demand action in Rhode Island in the wake of mass shootings by lone gunmen  in a Texas elemntary school and a Buffalo, N.Y. supermarket.

Most of the reaction so far from gun-rights activites has focused on what a person who currently owns a large capacity feeding device would be required to do, when and if the proposed ban become law.

Within 180 days, the legislation would require the owner to permanently modify the large capacity feeding device such that it cannot hold more than ten rounds of ammunition; surrender the large capacity feeding device to a home city police department or ithe Rhode Island State Police or  transfer or sell it to a federally licensed firearm dealer “or person or firm outside the State of Rhode Island that is lawfully entitled” to own it.

As currently written, there would be exemptions for active and retired law enforcement officers and active duty members of the Armed Forces of the United States or the National Guard who are “authorized to possess and carry such a feeding device.”

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