PROVIDENCE, RI - Days after the shooting in Parkland, Florida, Governor Gina M. Raimondo was the first governor in America to sign an executive order establishing a Red Flag policy. Today, with House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, Senate President Dominick Ruggerio and members of the legislature standing behind her, Governor Raimondo signed landmark legislation establishing a permanent Red Flag Law that creates a process to take guns away from individuals who pose a danger to themselves and others and banning bump stock devices.
"Since I've been Governor, I've had to lower the state flag to half-staff 10 times because of mass shootings. The Red Flag Law and Bump Stock Ban will go a long way to prevent that kind of tragedy in Rhode Island and will make our state safer," said Governor Raimondo. "Rhode Islanders are not going to wait for Washington to take action on gun violence. I appreciate the General Assembly's leadership to pass these bill and I'm proud to sign them to send a loud and clear signal that Rhode Islanders will not stand for gun violence."
The Governor signed these bills this morning during a ceremony in the State House rotunda. She was joined more than 100 gun safety advocates - many wearing orange in recognition of National Gun Violence Awareness Day. Dozens of law enforcement leaders and members of her Cabinet and staff who worked closely with the General Assembly and advocates to pass these bills also joined for the ceremony.
The Red Flag Law (S2492A/H7688Aaa) will allow law enforcement to petition the courts to remove firearms from individuals who pose a significant danger of causing imminent personal injury to themselves or others. Rhode Island is the 9th state to establish a permanent Red Flag Law. Senator Maryellen Goodwin and Representative Dennis Canario were lead sponsors of the bills in their respective chambers.
"With this new law, we can truly prevent tragedies. People who are demonstrably unstable and are making serious threats should not be armed. All too often after a mass shooting we learn about all the warning signs people saw from the shooter and wonder why they still had guns. Unfortunately, it's frequently because there isn't always a legal means to disarm them. Finally, here in our state and in others that have been adopting red flag laws, we will have a speedy but fair process to ensure that those who pose a legitimate risk do not remain armed," said Senator Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence).
Said Representative Canario (D-Dist. 71, Portsmouth, Little Compton, Tiverton), "This new law will disarm those who pose a serious threat for the protection of children and the public. As a retired police officer with more than 25 years of experience in the law enforcement field, I thank my fellow officers for their leadership and commitment to addressing this critical situation. With this new law, we have an important means of stopping troubled individuals from carrying out violence and preventing tragic events."
The bump stock ban (S2292A/H7075Aaa) prohibits the possession of bump stocks and rapid fire modifications that turn semi-automatic weapons into fully automatic weapons. Last October, 58 people were killed in Las Vegas during a mass shooting where the shooter had access to a bump stock device. The legislation the Governor signed today provides a 90-day grace period for individuals to sell or destroy existing rapid-fire devices. Representative Robert Craven and Senator James Seveney were lead sponsors of the bills in their respective chambers.
"With the enactment of this law, we are clearly stating that Rhode Island will not tolerate these dangerous tools of death. There is now no ambiguity; No one can buy, possess, attach or use a bump stock, trigger crank or binary crank in Rhode Island," said Representative Craven (D-Dist. 32, North Kingstown).
Said Senator Seveney, (D-Dist. 11, Portsmouth, Bristol, Tiverton), "These devices are all ways to get around the federal law that bans fully automatic weapons by making semi-automatic weapons fire almost as fast as them. Today, we stop this end run and ban these horrific devices in Rhode Island."
"The legislature prioritizing these bills and Gov. Raimondo's swift signing of them today, along with last year's enactment of lifesaving domestic violence legislation demonstrates that Rhode Island is joining the ranks of states leading the fight to prevent gun violence," said Jennifer Boylan, a volunteer leader with the Rhode Island chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. "Once again, our lawmakers have listened to the majority of Rhode Islanders and taken action to protect our families and keep our communities safe. These bills will save lives and we are so proud to see them signed into law."
"Rhode Island has taken an important step in protecting its citizens from gun violence with the passage of the red flag law and banning bump stocks," said Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin. "I applaud the leadership of the Rhode Island Police Chiefs Association for their advocacy on the red flag legislation, the General Assembly for the urgency in which they took up the measure, and the Governor for signing it into law today. Until now, law enforcement's hands have been tied when they come into contact with someone they believe is a danger to themselves and others. With the red flag law, we now have a legal process, with protections for individuals, to keep firearms out of the hands of dangerous individuals. Unfortunately, even in just the weeks that these bills were being discussed, we saw new incidents of gun violence, both nationally and closer to home. While the steps Rhode Island has taken today won't eradicate the problem, it will provide additional tools to enhance public safety."
"The Rhode Island State Police strongly supports any legislation that will help us save lives," Colonel Ann C. Assumpico, Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police and Director of the Department of Public Safety. "These two new laws will help us in our efforts to keep deadly weapons out of the hands of dangerous individuals who pose a threat to our troopers, other law enforcement officers and the communities we are sworn to protect."
"The root of the problem and the resulting tragedies all across this country reaffirms why we need sensible gun legislation and mental health reform," said Central Falls Colonel James J. Mendonca, President of the Rhode Island Police Chiefs' Association. "The signing of this bill goes a long way in tackling both issues in a sensible responsible manner that balances an individual's constitutional rights with maintaining public safety."
Last year, Governor Raimondo worked with legislators and advocates to pass a bill that takes guns out of the hands of domestic abusers.
In February, days after the Parkland shooting, Governor Raimondo joined New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy as a founding member of the States for Gun Safety coalition. This coalition is advancing a multi-pronged effort to create a multi-state database to supplement the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System, trace and intercept guns that are used in crimes as well as guns transported across state borders and launch the nation's first Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium that will study the issue across multiple disciplines to better inform policy makers nationwide.