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Rhode Island joins neighbors in banning bump stocks

June 1, 2018

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island joined its neighbors on Friday in banning devices that enable semi-automatic weapons to mimic a fully automatic one.

Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo signed the bump stock ban bill as well as a “red flag” bill, which will allow law enforcement to request orders to remove guns temporarily from people it deems dangerous.

“There’s no question that we need these laws, there’s no question that it’s common-sense, and no question that they’ll make us safer,” Raimondo said in a ceremony at the statehouse.

The proposals cleared the last hurdle in the General Assembly on Thursday. Lawmakers in Connecticut enacted a bump stock ban Thursday. Massachusetts did so last year. Rhode Island’s laws take effect immediately.

Lawmakers attributed both laws to concern about specific mass shootings. About a dozen bump stocks were found in the hotel room of the shooter who killed 58 people and wounded hundreds more at a Las Vegas country music festival in October 2017.

Both legislators who sponsored Rhode Island’s ban said they didn’t know what bump stocks were until they watched media coverage of the Las Vegas shooting.

Democratic Rep. Robert Craven, a former prosecutor, said the sound of the gunfire led him to ask an associate to “go on the computer and find out what the hell a bump stock is.” Sen. James Seveney, a Democrat and retired naval officer, said guns with bump stocks don’t belong in the public.

“These are weapons of war and they don’t belong anywhere else but in our armed services,” he said.

The red flag law grew out of concern about the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead. Police had received 18 calls about the shooter before the event.

Florida, along with Maryland, Vermont and now Rhode Island, has since enacted a red flag policy.

The Rhode Island Police Chiefs Association pushed for the policy here. The law will allow law enforcement to petition the Superior Court for the temporary order.

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