Rhode Island lawmakers pass bump stock ban, ‘red flag’ law
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The Rhode Island General Assembly on Thursday moved to strengthen the state’s gun laws following recent deadly school shootings in the U.S.
The Senate voted to ban rapid-fire devices known as bump stocks and implement a statewide “red flag” policy. Republican Sen. Elaine Morgan was the only lawmaker to vote no on both bills. The House passed identical measures last month.
Bump stocks allow semi-automatic rifles to mimic the firepower of fully automatic weapons. The devices were used in the October 2017 shooting at a Las Vegas country music festival that left 58 people dead and hundreds more injured.
The red flag bill would allow law enforcement officials to file for extreme risk protective orders to take guns away from people deemed to be imminent threats to themselves or others. A Superior Court judge would have to approve an order, which would last one year, but could be renewed.
The measures were introduced after a high school student fatally shot 17 people at his school in Parkland, Florida on Feb. 14. Last Friday, a student shot and killed 10 people at a high school in Santa Fe, Texas.
Democratic Sen. Maryellen Goodwin, who introduced the Senate’s red flag bill, invoked the activism of Parkland survivors on the floor before the vote.
“The young people across this country were no longer going to remain silent,” she said. “They were no longer going to remain complicit while legislators sit in chambers across this country and say nothing and do nothing.”
Morgan said she wants to keep students safe, but voted no because she does not think the red flag bill will achieve that goal.
“All I see this law doing is going against our constitutional rights,” she said.
Six other states have banned bump stocks, according to the advocacy group Everytown For Gun Safety. The Connecticut Legislature also passed a ban but it has not yet been signed into law.
Eight states have passed red flags. Three, including Florida, did so after the Parkland shooting.
Everytown praised the passage of the bills in a statement.
“In the wake of yet another mass shooting, this time at Santa Fe High School, we are grateful that our lawmakers are more determined than ever to make Rhode Island a leader on gun sense,” said Amy Herlihy, a volunteer with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, an affiliate of the national organization.
The Second Amendment Coalition of Rhode Island did not respond to multiple requests for comment. A list on their website indicated they opposed previous versions of both measures.