House Bill 5434 – Sponsored by Representatives Caldwell, Knight, Kazarian, McEntee, Craven, McGaw, Dawson, Batista, Allejo, and Boylan
Senate Bill 0321 – Sponsored by Senators Lauria, Goodwin, Pearson, Euer, Miller, Valverde, DiMario, Murray, Lawson, and DiPalma
of Rhode Islanders favor holding gun owners liable when their guns are used in crimes
This act creates a new offense and would make it a felony for the owner of any firearm to store the firearm unlocked. Failure to store the firearm locked would subject the owner to a fine of not more than $3,000. If the owner of a firearm leaves it loaded and a child gains access and causes injury then the owner can be subject to a penalty of up to 5 years imprisonment and/or a fine of not more than $5,000.
A Sensible Reform That Will Encourage Responsible Behavior and Reduce the Risk of Tragedies
Under current Rhode Island law, a gun owner is criminally liable only if a child under age 16 gets access to and discharges a gun causing injury to himself or herself or others. Holding gun owners accountable for the safe storage of their firearms is a smart public safey policy that will impact gun owners minimally and help prevent gun violence within homes and throughout our communities.
Safe Storage May Have Prevented These Rhode Island Tragedies
A Johnston man has been charged with four misdemeanors of violating state law on the safe storage of firearms in the accidental shooting death of a local 15-year-old. The guns were owned legally, but the owner was not home when the incident occured. (If the teen had reached the age of 16 there would have been no criminal liability.)
Gun-related incidents in RI from 2015-2019 among children and youth (ages 1 to 19)
- 145 Emergency room visits
- 31 Hospitalizations for injuries
- 7 Deaths
- 2 Youth suicides
“I believe [that] if the gun had been secured it would have prevented my sister from acting impulsively. It would have bought some time and sometimes, when you can interrupt a suicide … you can save a life.”
– Patti Alley, Warwick, RI
70% of RI Gun Deaths from 2014-2018 Were From Suicide
“From 2014 to 2018, 208 Rhode Islanders died as a result of firearms. Of these tragic deaths, 70% were due to suicide or intentional self-harm. Each of these deaths was preventable and all were tragic. The one common denominator was access to a firearm.”
– Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, Director, RI Dept. of Health
Risk of Homicide and Suicide Increases with Guns in the Home
Harvard Injury Control Research Center
Published in Injury Epidemiology, 2017
"We estimate that there are approximately 250,000 gun theft incidents per year, with about 380,000 guns stolen. We find that certain types of gun owners - who own many guns, who carry guns, and who do not store guns safely - are at higher risk to have their guns stolen."
Published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 2011
"The evidence is overwhelming that a gun in the home is a risk factor for completed suicide and that gun accidents are most likely to occur in homes with guns. There is compelling evidence that a gun in the home is a risk factor for intimidation and for killing women in their homes, and it appears that a gun in the home may more likely be used to threaten intimates than to protect against intruders. On the potential benefit side, there is no good evidence of a deterrent effect of firearms or that a gun in the home reduces the likelihood or severity of injury during an altercation or break-in."
More firearm research from Harvard:
American Academy of Pediatrics
Gun violence is a public health epidemic that is injuring and killing children at alarming rates. Any death from gun violence is one too many if it's in your family or your community. We must implement common-sense solutions that have been proven to reduce these injuries and deaths.
More Guns = More Gun Violence
Published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, March 2019
Published in Science, 2017
"The spike in gun exposure that followed the Sandy Hook school shooting increased the incidence of accidental firearm deaths, particularly among children."
The Accessibility of Firearms and Risk for Suicide and Homicide Victimization Among Household Members
Published on Annals of Internal Medicine, January 2014
"Specific characteristics about storage and types of firearms seem to increase suicide risk. Firearms that are stored loaded or unlocked are more likely to be used than those that are unloaded or locked, and adolescent suicide victims often use an unlocked firearm in the home."
Published National Library of Medicine, September 2014
Published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, 2014
"States with higher levels of gun ownership had disproportionately large numbers of deaths from firearm-related homicides."
Published on sciencedirect.com, July 2010
Published on JAMA, February 2005
Firearm availability and female homicide victimization rates among 25 populous high-income countries
Published in Journal of the American Women's Medical Association, Spring 2002