RICAGV launches secure storage and assault weapons ban legislation at “Valentines Not Violence” State House Event

Thursday February 8, 2024 3:30 PM                                 

Providence, RI —  The Rhode Island AFL-CIO, NEARI (National Education Association Rhode Island), Moms Demand Action and other community partners joined the Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence (RICAGV) today at the State House in support of gun safety legislation and preventing gun violence. The two priority pieces of legislation for the second year in a row are a secure storage bill and an assault weapons ban. Speakers included the lead sponsors from both chambers of the General Assembly, including a new sponsor in the Senate for the assault weapons ban, as well as union leaders from the RI AFL-CIO and NEARI.

Melissa Carden, Executive Director of RICAGV, welcomed guests and elected officials and began her remarks, “We know if we get our two bills to the floor – secure storage and an assault weapons ban – they will pass.” She continued, “We have overwhelming support from both the House and Senate. In fact, in the 2022 election cycle, we endorsed the entire leadership team in the House – the Speaker, Majority Leader and Majority Whip.”

Prepared remarks included: 

Patrick Crowley, Secretary-Treasurer of the RI AFL-CIO, said, “The same dark money forces that fund anti-union politicians also fund the gun lobby. They want to divide us while they laugh all the way to the bank. But gun violence is a worker safety issue, which makes it a union issue, and that’s why the Rhode Island AFL-CIO supports these important bills.”

Representative Justine Caldwell, House sponsor of the secure storage bill, who said, “Gun ownership is a right under the Second Amendment, but it’s also a responsibility. The bare minimum responsibility firearms owners owe the public is to store their firearms safely so that people who shouldn’t get them can’t use them. Too many American tragedies — suicides, unintentional shootings involving children, mass shootings — start with someone getting their hands on someone else’s gun without permission. My bill would give gun owners a stronger incentive to take common-sense precautions that make gun ownership safer.”

Pam Lauria, Senate sponsor of the secure storage bill, said, “Gun violence is the number one killer of our children. We know that 70-80% of school shootings, unintended shootings and suicides by children are from unsecured firearms at home or a known family member or friend. Safe storage saves lives and responsible gun owners already safely secure their weapons. We must mandate that all gun owners practice one of the best measures to prevent gun deaths of our children. It is as essential as seatbelts.”

Jason Knight, House sponsor of the assault weapons ban, said, “We banned machine guns decades ago because they were a danger to society. Today’s assault weapon falls into the same category. They are a scourge and there is no reason why we should tolerate them in Rhode Island.”

Louis DiPalma, Senate sponsor of the assault weapons ban, said, “From 2009 to 2022, 9 out of 10 mass shooting incidents with the most casualties involved the use of at least one assault weapon.  Over twice as many people are killed when mass shootings involve an assault weapon and twenty-two times more people are wounded.  Research estimates indicate that if the federal law prohibiting assault and high-capacity magazines was in effect from 2005 through 2019, it would have prevented 30 mass shootings that resulted in approximately 1500 people shot and killed and wounded.  Twenty percent of the states have an assault weapons ban, including our neighbors MA and CT.  It’s time for Rhode Island to do the same. It’s long overdue.”

Amy Mullen, Vice President of the National Education Association Rhode Island, said, “Today, gun violence ranks as the number one cause of student death. Homicides account for roughly six in ten gun deaths among children and death by suicide are on the rise. An estimated 3 million children per year are exposed to shootings. Too many children live in homes with guns that are both loaded and unlocked. Protect our kids in and out of school. Secure storage decreases the likelihood of gun violence on school grounds and reduces firearm suicide rates. NEARI supports these bills because they help keep our school staff safe, our school communities safe, and our students safe.” 


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