School shootings across the nation has led the Rhode Island Senate to pass legislation aimed at gun control, including a so-called red flag law that allows courts to disarm people who are considered a threat.
Sen. Dawn Euer, who represents Jamestown and Newport, co-sponsored the bill.
“I understand the need to change hearts and minds on important issues, but how many hearts are going to stop beating before we take meaningful action?” the Democrat said.
Legislation prohibiting rapid-fire modifications for semi-automatic weapons also was passed. These bills now head to the House. Rep. Deb Ruggiero, who represents Jamestown in the lower chamber, supports these measures.
The bill allows police to seek an “extreme risk protective order” from Superior Court that prohibits people from possessing firearms based on warning signs of violence. Ed Mello, Jamestown’s police chief, spearheaded the effort. He said the law already exists in principal, referring to a measure passed in October that disarms domestic abusers.
“We know that law has stopped people from killing or injuring someone else,” he said. “Why wouldn’t we expand that to the general public?”
Any person given an extreme risk protective order would be prohibited from possessing or purchasing a firearm. It would require these people to surrender guns in their possession and would invalidate any concealed carry permits they have. These one-year orders could be renewed by the court.
According to the sponsors, this legislation could have prevented the Parkland school shooting in Florida earlier this year. Police said the alleged shooter used a legally purchased semi-automatic weapon. Before the shooting, however, his mother had contacted law enforcement about his behavior, but Florida did not have a red flag law. It has since passed one.
Also passed was a ban on bump stocks, binary triggers or trigger cranks. A bump stock is an attachment that allows the shooter to fire a semi-automatic weapon with great rapidity. It replaces a rifle’s standard stock, freeing the weapon to slide back and forth rapidly, harnessing the energy from the kickback.
In last year’s mass shooting in Las Vegas, 12 of the rifles in the gunman’s possession were modified with a bump stock, allowing the weapon to fire about 90 shots in 10 seconds, a much faster rate than a typical AR-15 assault rifle.
The legislation also would ban binary triggers, which is a device designed to fire one round on the pull of the trigger and another round upon release of the trigger, effectively doubling the weapon’s shooting capabilities; and trigger cranks, which attach to the trigger of a semi-automatic weapon and cause the weapon to fire by turning the crank handle. These measures were supported by Attorney General Peter Kilmartin.