IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, March 19, 2021
CONTACT: Linda Finn, Executive Director

Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence Anticipates Broad Support at House Judiciary Hearing

Providence, Rhode Island (March 19, 2021) — The Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence (RICAGV) along with a broad coalition of partner organizations from the fields of medicine, education, art, along with faith leaders, representatives from youth organizations, and family members of victims are expected to testify and have already sent hundreds of letters in support of a broad package of gun safety legislation being heard this Friday, March 19 at 1:00 PM. 

While in past years former Speaker of the House Nicholas Mattiello refused to allow votes on these bills, they have long enjoyed broad bipartisan support from the general public. Mattiello and 12 other NRA A-rated politicians lost their elections in 2020 which has changed the make-up of the House and as a result a majority of House legislators now support these bills.

For the first time, Rep. Justine Caldwell’s bills to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines have 40 co-sponsors. House Majority Whip Katherine Kazarian’s bill to keep untrained, unknown individuals from carrying guns onto school property, something only 5 other states generally allow, will also be considered.   

As we are seeing around the country, the gun lobby’s “guns everywhere” platform is wearing thin with voters, and politicians are beginning to catch on. It is still legal in Rhode Island to purchase and own assault weapons, purchase hundreds of rounds of ammunition, and openly carry assault weapons in public, and it is time for the General Assembly to step up and follow the will of Rhode Island voters. 

A March 2020 state-wide poll conducted by the Center for Research and Public Policy, Inc. found that nearly two-thirds of Rhode Islanders follow gun safety issues and they consider a candidate’s stand on gun safety issues when they vote. There is majority support in Rhode Island for a number of our proposals including:

  • Banning large-capacity magazines – 71.5%
  • Banning military-style assault weapons – 70.5%

Rhode Islanders and public safety officials support these policy initiatives. At today’s House Judiciary Committee Hearing testifying in support of gun safety legislation will Captain Derek Borek, considered the state’s leading expert in active shooter situations school shootings and workplace violence, Police Major Michael Jagoda at the University of Rhode Island, who previously served as the Lieutenant Commanding Officer of the Connecticut State Police and was a first responder to the Sandy Hook shooting in 2013, Public Safety Commissioner at the City of Providence, Steven Pare and Adi Goldstien, the Deputy Attorney General of Rhode Island who oversaw Governor Gina Raimondo’s Working Group Gun Study in 2018.  

While the gun lobby likes to say that these laws would only take away rights from “law-abiding citizens”, the fact is that increasing the accountability of gun owners to safely store their firearms, enforcing stricter rules to reduce straw purchasers, and decreasing the number of highly-lethal firearms enhances the safety of all Rhode Islanders.