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Legislature to take up “red flag” law, bump stock ban

April 9, 2018

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A slew of gun legislation has been introduced in the Rhode Island General Assembly as the state looks to strengthen its gun safety laws in the wake of mass shootings like the one that left 17 people dead in Parkland, Florida.

The House of Representatives is expected to take up two bills this week that would bolster the state’s “red flag” policy and ban bump stocks. Democratic House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello’s office says the House Judiciary Committee will vote on the bills Tuesday and the full House would vote Thursday if it passes.

Larry Berman, Mattiello’s spokesman, said the speaker is “very supportive” of those two bills. The legislative body will take up the remaining proposals after its April recess next week.

Greg Pare, a spokesman for Democratic Senate President Dominick Ruggerio, said the Senate does not yet have a timetable for voting on gun legislation, but he said Ruggerio is also supportive of a “red flag” bill and banning bump stocks.

Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo has also voiced support for the two proposals.

Here’s a look at some of the notable bills lawmakers are considering this session:

“RED FLAG” BILL

The so-called red flag law would grant courts more authority to issue “extreme risk protection orders” to take guns away from people it determines are an imminent danger to themselves or others. It was recommended by the Rhode Island Police Chiefs Association. Mattiello, who is backed by the National Rifle Association, was a co-sponsor of the bill in the House.

Berman, Mattiello’s spokesman, said the speaker felt it was an important step to promote gun safety even if fellow Second Amendment advocates do not support it. The Rhode Island Second Amendment Coalition, a local affiliate of the NRA, has opposed the bill, and the American Civil Liberties Union voiced concern about whether the bill infringes due process rights.

Six other states have similar laws in place, and another 21 have bills pending in the legislature, according to Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun safety advocacy organization.

BUMP STOCK BAN

This law would ban the devices that make semiautomatic rifles mimic the firing action of a fully automatic weapon. Berman said there has been little opposition to the law in the House.

The device was used in the Las Vegas shooting that left 58 people dead last year. The proposals would ban similar devices like binary triggers, which are designed to fire one round on the pull of the trigger and another on the release. The Second Amendment Coalition has also opposed this bill.

ASSAULT WEAPONS BAN

Lawmakers have introduced bills to ban assault weapons in both chambers of the General Assembly. Raimondo’s office said the governor fully supports such a ban, but it’s unclear whether it will have enough support in the General Assembly to become law. Eight states, including neighboring Massachusetts and Connecticut, have banned assault weapons.

AGE LIMIT

Several bills would raise the minimum age needed to buy a rifle or shotgun in Rhode Island from 18 to 21. State law already requires residents to be 21 to buy handguns, and these bills would extend the higher age limit to long guns. Different versions of the bill would grandfather in people who are under 21 and already own such guns, provide exemptions for police and military and require a safety course as well. Another piece of legislation, backed by Democratic Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, would ban the possession of guns by minors.

OTHER LEGISLATION

Among the other proposals introduced this session are: banning high capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, closing a loophole that the attorney general says allows people to openly carry rifles, and ending concealed carry in schools with a few exceptions.

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