New Law Takes Effect Sunday 12/18
Thousands of Law Abiding Citizens Could Become Instant Felons if They Fail to Comply
(The Center Square) – Possession of high-capacity firearm magazines will be a felony in Rhode Island beginning this Sunday, following a federal judge’s ruling upholding the new law.
On Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge John J. McConnell Jr. rejected a request by several firearms owners to issue a preliminary injunction blocking the law from going into effect.
In the ruling, McConnell said the plaintiffs, which included a Rhode Island hunting and fishing supply store and several gun owners, had not proven they would “suffer irreparable harm” from the new law, and said enforcing the restrictions was “in the public’s interest.”
The plaintiffs argued the law violated their Second Amendment rights, and represented an unconstitutional “taking” of their property without just compensation.
In court filings, lawyers for the plaintiffs contended high-capacity magazines are considered an integral part of a firearm that is protected under the U.S. Constitution, and the core right to self-defense.
But McConnell disagreed, citing a doctrine that exempts property owners from compensation for “police actions” and policies deemed to be in the public’s interest.
The judge said he relied on data provided by medical experts that showed a connection between the use of large capacity magazines, and increased injuries resulting from mass shootings. He sided with the state’s legal team arguments that the ban is meant to improve public safety.
“It is perhaps inevitable that Rhode Island will one day be the scene of a mass shooting,” McConnnell wrote. “The LCM (large capacity magazine) ban is a small but measured attempt to mitigate the potential loss of life by regulating an instrument associated with mass slaughter.”
In a joint statement, Senate President Dominick Ruggerio and House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi praised the judge’s ruling, saying the ban on high-capacity magazines was “carefully developed and thoroughly reviewed” and enacted after “lengthy public testimony.”
“We firmly believed that the restrictions are necessary, reasonable and in the best interests of public safety, and that they would be upheld in a court of law, just as similar provisions in other states have been upheld,” the statement read.
Shortly after the ruling was issued, Rhode Island Attorney General sent out an advisory reminding gun owners that the law will be going into effect on Sunday.
Under the law, gun owners will have 180 days to modify high-capacity magazines, surrender them to police, or transfer them to people in states where they are considered legal. Violators face fines of up to $5000 and five years in prison.
Earlier this year, Rhode Island’s Democratic-controlled Assembly passed three gun control bills banning firearm magazines with capacities of greater than 10 rounds, raising the age limit to buy rifles, shotguns and ammunition from 18 to 21, and prohibiting loaded rifles and shotguns from being carried in public.
The measures, which were signed by Gov. Dan McKee in June, came amid a push for gun control locally, in response to the massacre of elementary school children in Uvalde, Texas, the country’s deadliest school shooting since 2012.
“Here in Rhode Island, we’re taking meaningful action to address the scourge of gun violence and keep our residents safe,” McKee said at the time. “These measures can help saves lives.”
Republican lawmakers and Second Amendment groups spoke out against the proposed regulations during public hearings, ripping the proposals as unconstitutional and pledging to fight them in court.
It wasn’t immediately clear if the plaintiffs will appeal the court’s ruling.