In the aftermath of last week’s school shooting in Uvalde, Rhode Island General Assembly leaders are signaling new support for bringing gun-related legislation to a vote, although they remained opaque about which measures may make it to the House and Senate floor.

In a joint statement Tuesday, House Speaker Joe Shekarchi and Senate President Dominick Ruggerio said, “We are committed to passing meaningful gun reform legislation this session. We have been working on this issue with the sponsors and committee chairs for several months.”

No details were forthcoming about which of five measures may emerge to get a vote in each legislative chamber, in the waning weeks of an election-year session.

Later, about 200 people attended an afternoon rally outside the Statehouse in which a stream of speakers exhorted the General Assembly to take action against gun violence. Among those attending: dozens of state lawmakers, top union officials and all five of Rhode Island’s top elected leaders.

Sydney Montstream-Quas of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence took up the theme of how bills to cap magazine capacity at 10 rounds and to ban what some call “assault weapons” have languished in the legislature for a decade. Massachusetts and Connecticut ban those guns and large-capacity magazines.

She said holding the bills for further study translates into more violent trauma: “Held for further murders, held for further suicides by gun, held for further funerals. When our elected officials are willing to pass gun violence prevention bills, they will be declaring that enough is enough, that the carnage is unacceptable and must stop and the status quo is not tolerable.”

Other bills under consideration in the legislature would ban the open carry of long guns in public; raise the age to buy long guns and ammunition from 18 to 21; and impose new requirements meant for the safe storage of guns.

State Sen. Josh Miller (D-Cranston) urged supporters of the gun-related bills to be vigilant since small changes in bills could have big implications.

“They must be as effective as intended,” he said. “You must watch every word, every number, every comma.”

A top officials with one of the state's largest teachers' unions, National Education Association Rhode Island, spoke out during the rally and other leading union officials, including George Nee and Michael Sabitoni, attended to lend support to the message.

State Rep. Justine Caldwell (D-East Greenwich) described debating with her husband whether to share last week’s gruesome news with their fourth-grader son -- “the same age and the same grade as those little kids in Texas who died alone, scared and without their mothers’ arms around them, a brutal death so terrible they couldn’t even be identified.”

Their son, 10, found out about the massacre while looking for online information about the Celtics’ postseason run.

“He said to me, ‘did someone go inside and shoot fourth-graders, inside an elementary school in Texas?’ “ Caldwell recounted.

After the boy expressed concern that he would not be able to escape a shooter since his classroom is on a second floor, Caldwell said she was left uncharastically speechless. “I didn’t know what to say,” she said. “So I looked Escher in the eye and I told him a lie. I told him, ‘you don’t have to worry because you are safe at school.’ “

Gov. Dan McKee said he is ready to sign the gun-related bills if they clear the legislature. One of McKee’s rivals in the race for governor, Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, also called for speedy passage of the legislation.

Attorney General Peter Neronha said new gun laws in Rhode Island, such as one outlawing untraceable ‘ghost guns,’ have made the state safer.

He recounted how police used to keep a shotgun in the back of patrol cars, but now pack AR-15s, which can rapidly fire a fusillade of bullets, since they don’t want to be outgunned by criminals.

“If we back the blue, back the bills,” Neronha said, referring to a slogan in support of law enforcement. 

Earlier, during a separate news conference, McKee said the state is prepared to reimburse every school district in Rhode Island for up to $500,000 each in emergency repairs to enhance school safety.

McKee said he is open to considering posting police officers at schools. Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green told reporters she thinks the decision should be left to individual districts.

Ian Donnis can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @IanDon. Sign up here for his free weekly RI politics newsletter.