This bill will close a legislative loophole in Rhode Island law that allows citizens to openly carry loaded rifles and shotguns in public.
This act would define rifle and shotgun as weapons and make it unlawful to possess a loaded rifle or shotgun in public subject to various exceptions inclusive of hunting activity punishable upon conviction by imprisonment up to 5 years or a fine up to $5,000.
Open Carry Creates Danger and Intimidation
This loophole is opposed by law enforcement and is often exploited by white supremacists and other hate groups as a way to intimidate lawmakers and the public.
White Supremacist Incidents Rise Dramatically Across the State
The overwhelming majority occured in the last two years
Taking place in 35 of the 39 cities and towns throughout Rhode Island
A total of 186 incidents include harrassment, propaganda, graffiti, and demonstrations
Rhode Island Extremist Activity in the Media
February 2022: Neo-Nazi’s swarm East Side bookstore
February 2022: Public art defaced in Providence
It’s About Public Safety
Rhode Islander’s support even stricter regulation regarding long guns. When respondents in a 2020 statewide poll were reminded or informed that there is no licensing requirement for shotguns or rifles overwhelming majorities were in favor.
rifle and shotgun licensing
rifle and shotgun registration
Extremist Groups in Rhode Island
Thought varied in their ideologies, they share two things: hate of “others” and an affinity for firearms. Three have been identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as groups operating in Rhode Island: Patriot Front by far the most active in the last two years, National Social Club 131, and Proud Boys. Rise of the Moors is part of the “Sovereign Citizen Movement.”
A white nationalist group with chapters throughout the U.S.. This group has targeted Jews, LGBT+, media, political candidates, and human rights organizations. They are very active in RI, particularly with propaganda with mainstream conservative messaging and red, white and blue colors. According to news reports they were involved in the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol in Washington.
Nationalist Social Club 131
Reportedly founded in Massachusetts, this New England group is categorized as “neo-nazi.” They have expanded with chapters in multiple other states. The group that disrupted the East Side library reading was reported to have shouted “131,” reportedly referring this group; they also carried a nazi flag and shouted “white power.” According to news reports they were involved in the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol in Washington.
Categorized as “general hate” by SPL, this group has chapters throught the nation. They frequently joins up with other extremists organizations at rallies. They are known for being confrontational and engaging in street fights. Several members have been arrested on charges related to the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol in Washington.
Rise of the Moors
This anti-government group is based in Rhode Island. In July of 2021 eleven heavily armed men dressed in military fatigues and body armor engaged in an hours-long standoff with Massachusetts police on I-95. The police discovered three AR-15 rifles, two pistols, a bolt-action rifle, a shotgun, and a short barrel rifle; none of the men had a license to carry firearms. All were arrested and charged with many firearms violations. The incident ended without shots fired or any injuries.
Prohibiting Long Guns in Public Would Keep Rhode Island Safe from the Dangerous Situations Occuring Across the Country
Armed Protests are Six Times More Likely to Turn Violent
According to an analysis of more than 30,000 public demonstrations in the U.S. between January 2020 and June 2021.
The study examined 560 instances in which individuals – whether the protesters themselves or people who opposed them – brought firearms to demonstrations.
In roughly one of every six of those demonstrations, “violent or destructive activity” ensued, the researchers found. At protests where no guns were present, one out of 37 turned violent.
In 2020 the “Three Percenter” militia counter-protested the “NFAC” militia at a demonstration denouncing the police killing of Breonna Taylor in Kentucky.
In 2020 armed COVID protestors swarmed the Michigan State House; open carry is now banned in the state capitol.
In 2017 armed protestors at Unite the Right Rally faced nonviolent faith leaders, Charlottesville, VA.
In 2015 military recruiters were warned that armed citizens should be treated as a security threat.
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