Regulating Assault Weapons

House Bill 7217 – Sponsored by Representatives Knight, Caldwell, Batista, Felix, Craven, McEntee, Kazarian, Ajello, Giraldo, and Boylan
Senate Bill 2653 Sponsored by Senators DiPalma, Goodwin, Euer, Acosta, Lawson, McKenney, LaMountain, Kallman, Gallo, and Can


of Rhode Islanders are in favor of regulating assault weapons

Source: 2020 RI Statewide Poll on Gun Safety and Gun Violence Prevention

This act would ban the possession, sale and transfer of assault weapons. Possession of assault weapons owned on the effective date of this act would be “grandfathered” subject to certain registration provisions.

A Sampling of RI Police Seizures of Miltiary-Style Assault Weapons

February 2022 – Providence Police battled with heavily armed man firing “hundreds of rounds” after hours-long standoff.

February 2022 – Burrillville man’s arsenal of 211 firearms included many miltiary-style assault weapons.

January 2022 – A man who shot an AR-15 at a Providence police officer who was responding to a domestic violence call in August of 2021 has been indicted.

July 2021 – 3 AR-15s were among the guns siezed in the Massachusetts police arrest of a group of men from Rhode Island “Rise of the Moors.”

January 2021 – Westerly police find a loaded AR-15 beneath a bed that a child was sleeping in following a search of the home of a man arrested for various charges, including domestic assault and cruelty or neglect of a child.

October 2020 – An assault weapon was found by Providence Police while investigating an incident of “shots fired.”

November 2019 – A stolen assault weapon was recovered along with two stolen semi-automatic pistols and three loaded magazines in drug bust in Providence.

August 2019 – Lincoln Police seized an assault weapon along with two handguns in a drug bust.

August 2019 – Providence Police seized an assault weapon, among many other firearms in a drug bust.

December 2018 – An AR-15 was found in the home of a Providence teenager who had made online threats to shoot up his high school.

October 2018 – Two AR-15s were among more than two dozen firearms seized in an FBI gun and drug trafficking scheme that included men from Providence, Pawtucket, Warwick, Cranston, Cumberland, Smithfield, Fall River, New Bedford, and North Attleboro.

June 2018 – An illegally modified, fully automatic AR-15 was among the 12 firearms seized in West Greenwich during a State Police investigaiton.

May 2018 – Military-style assault weapons were found among the 50+ firearms seized during a multi-location raids on a biker gang, including Woonsocket, North Smithfield, North Providence, Burrillville, Chepachet, and Warwick, as well as local Massachusetts towns such as Bellingham, Blackstone, Charlton, and Milford.

May 2018 – West Warwick Police discovered an AR-15 with a high capacity magazine during a drug bust.

March 2018 – Smithfield Police confiscated an AR-15 along with three other firearms, 8 high capacity magazines and 2,000 rounds of ammunition in a search of a home that had been under surveillance for selling drugs.

It’s About Public Safety

It is time to put public safety first and join with these states to reduce the number of these uniquely dangerous weapons from our communities.

⇒ Connecticut
⇒ Massachusetts
⇒ New York
⇒ New Jersey

⇒ Maryland
⇒ California
⇒ Hawaii
⇒ D.C.

Assault Weapons Inflict Battle-Field Injuries

The AR-15 was developed for the military and was field tested in Vietnam in 1962; reports indicated that “the very high-velocity AR-15 projectiles” had caused:

•  Amputation of limbs

•  Massive body wounds

•  Decapitations

Today’s AR-15 and similar military-style rifles retain the same military features and capabilities, except that they do not have fully automatic firing.

Gun Deaths in Connecticut Drop 18% After Comprehensive Gun Safety Reform is Enacted

The legislation, passed in 2013 in the the wake of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, expanded the scope of the assault weapon ban already in place, in addition to limiting magazine capacity to 10 rounds, and requires background checks for all gun sales.

The fact is that many of the people who commit crimes with these guns have been able to purchase them legally or had access to one that was legally purchased, including two of the most spectactularly heinous gun massacres in U.S. history:

  • The Sandy Hook shooter who used his mother’s legally purchased handgun to kill her and then use her AR-15 to commit the slaughter of twenty first graders and six teachers and staff.
  • The Las Vegas shooter who legally purchased an arsenal of high-powered firearms, including fourteen AR15-type semiautomatics, eight AR10-type semiautomatics, many thousands of rounds of ammunition, and numerous high-capacity magazines, which he used to kill 60 people and wound another 400 more; the total casualty count is more than 840 when people with non-gunshot injuries are added in.

Connecticut Firearm Deaths 2012-2019

YearGun Deaths

Source: (Download table to see gun deaths.)

Criminal Use of Assault Weapons and High Capacity Semiautomatic Firearms

  • Assault weapons and other high-capacity semiautomatics together generally account for 22 to 36% of crime guns, with some estimates upwards of 40% for cases involving serious violence  including murders of police.
  • Assault weapons and other high-capacity semiautomatics appear to be used in a higher share of firearm mass murders (up to 57% in total).
  • Trend analyses also indicate that high-capacity semiautomatics have grown from 33 to 112% as a share of crime guns since the expiration of the federal ban – a trend that has coincided with recent growth in shootings nationwide.
Criminal Use of Assault Weapons and High-Capacity Semiautomatic Firearms_ an Updated Examination of Local and National Sources, Journal of Urban Health.2-01-01

Fewer Mass Shootings and Much Lower Death Rate During the Federal Assault Weapon Ban

Ban in effect





Ban Expired





We don’t know where the next mass shooting will occur: a school, church, movie theater, park, concert, or mall.

We do know that we can take steps to prevent this violence from occurring in Rhode Island.

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