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Rhode Island’s governor names gun safety task force

April 5, 2018

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — An emergency physician and a former state police major who’s a National Rifle Association member will lead a state task force that will study how to strengthen Rhode Island’s gun laws.

Gov. Gina Raimondo named Narragansett Town Administrator James Manni, an NRA member who spent 25 years with the Rhode Island State Police, and Dr. Megan Ranney, who also is a professor at Brown University, to lead the task force. The group includes 41 other members from a variety of professional backgrounds.

The Democratic governor said she wants the group to come up with suggestions for lasting, sustainable reform.

“We’re doing it because we have to. This is about saving lives and making Rhode Island safer for everybody,” Raimondo said.

Raimondo created the group after a February mass shooting at a Florida high school left 17 people dead. She also directed police statewide to use all available legal steps to remove firearms from people who pose a threat. Her order didn’t grant any new authority to take away guns.

The General Assembly is considering a law to expand that authority, and Raimondo said Thursday she hopes lawmakers will pass it. Both Manni and Ranney declined to comment on the legislation.

“If we knew (the answers), we wouldn’t be doing the task force,” Ranney said.

Manni touted his extensive career in law enforcement and lifelong familiarity with guns.

“We will address this complex question, mitigating gun violence, through open and honest discussion while respecting the Second Amendment,” Manni said.

Raimondo said she was looking for someone with that kind of credibility.

“It was important to me to have a gun expert, and Jim is a gun expert,” she said.

Ranney said she hopes to apply the science of public health, which she said dramatically reduced the number of car deaths.

“There are more cars on the road now than ever before and yet fewer people are dying and being hurt in car crashes,” she said. “We could do that for guns, too.”

The group will begin meeting the week of April 22. Raimondo said she expects an action plan in the fall.

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