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House passes bills on taking guns, banning firing devices

April 12, 2018

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The state House of Representatives has voted to ban devices that increase the firing rates of rifles and to implement a statewide policy granting courts more authority to issue protection orders to take guns away from people considered imminent dangers.

Representatives passed the two bills on Thursday before the April recess, approving the bump stock ban 65-3 and the red-flag policy 60-8. The bills haven’t reached the Senate.

The red-flag bill would allow law enforcers 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.

An earlier version of the bill would have allowed family members to file for protective orders as well, but the language was not included in the bill that passed.

Bump stocks make semi-automatic rifles mimic automatic weapons. In Las Vegas last year, a man using bump stocks killed 58 people and injured hundreds more at a country music festival while firing from a window of a hotel-casino before killing himself.

At a press conference earlier Thursday with the Rhode Island chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, Democratic House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said the red-flag bill was a common-sense measure to promote safety.

“This is a practical approach, a law that’s going to give the police the tools to act when they see these disturbing characteristics,” he said.

The speaker, who has received high grades from the National Rifle Association in the past, said the bump stock ban was similarly pragmatic.

“I see no useful purpose for a tool that turns a lawful firearm into an unlawful, automatic firearm,” he said.

Republican Minority Leader Patricia Morgan, however, argued the red-flag bill would infringe on Rhode Islanders’ rights.

“This tramples on our constitutional rights, some of our most trusted constitutional rights,” Morgan said.

Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo, who signed an executive order in February setting up the framework for a red-flag policy, told the Mom’s Demand Action advocates she would continue to work on preventing gun violence.

“Like you, we’re just going to stay on it until we are confident that Rhode Island is a place where people can stay safe and we have the most responsible gun safety laws in America,” she said.

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