Trio of Rhode Island gun control bills headed to governor’s desk

(The Center Square) – A trio of Rhode Island gun control bills are headed to Gov. Dan McKee’s desk.

The General Assembly passed the bills on Tuesday that would raise the age limits for purchasing guns and ammunition to age 21, ban carrying rifles and shotguns in public, and outlaw high-capacity magazines.

Under current law, persons under the age of 21, but over the age of 18, are permitted to purchase rifles and shotguns. Under House Bill 7457, if signed into law by the governor, anyone who sells a firearm to a person under the age of 21 could face up to five years in prison and be fined up to $5,000.

“People under the age of 21 are already prohibited from buying handguns in Rhode Island, but an 18-year-old – someone who might even still be in high school – can buy rifles and shotguns, including the powerful weapons that are often used in mass shootings,” Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin, D-Providence, said in the release. “It is well-settled science that teenage and post-teenage brains are still developing. It’s common sense that we shouldn’t be selling lethal weapons to people who we’ve decided are not old enough to buy cigarettes or beer.”

According to the bill, if enacted, police, state marshals, corrections officers, and active-duty military, or National Guard members would be exempt.

The bill passed by a 31-5 vote and was ratified by the House last Friday in a 52-16 vote.

The General Assembly on Tuesday passed Senate Bill 2825, which would provide penalties for individuals openly carrying loaded shotguns and rifles. The bill aligns the definitions for rifles and shotguns to be consistent with federal law, and, if enacted, calls for penalties of up to five years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.

“We must not accept violence as an unavoidable consequence of freedom,” Rep. Leonda “Leo” Felix, D-Pawtucket, said in the release. “We have a responsibility to address it. No one should be walking around our communities with a loaded weapon. A readily available loaded gun can too swiftly turn a conflict into a lethal tragedy, ruining the lives of everyone involved with a single bad decision. Requiring that firearms be transported safely is common sense and increases safety for all.”

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