Speaking on the anniversary of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo and Attorney General Peter Neronha said Thursday that imposing new restrictions on guns is a matter of saving lives.During a Statehouse news conference packed with anti-gun violence activists, Raimondo and Neronha unveiled their support for bills to ban what they call ‘assault weapons,’ large-capacity magazines, and to prohibit anyone but police from taking guns into a school.
“I’m asking the legislature to do the right thing, to listen to the will of the people of Rhode Island, the vast majority of whom support all three of these bills. Pass those bills, get them to my desk and let’s make our community safer,” Raimondo said to cheers.
As the governor tacitly acknowledged, House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello and Senate President Dominick Ruggerio have opposed the kinds of changes sought by anti-gun violence activists. But the legislature has banned bump stocks and created a ‘red flag’ law meant to identify dangerous individuals.
Scores of gun rights supporters have turned out for past legislative hearings on related topics. They call gun rights a matter of freedom and say that responsible gun owners use the so-called ‘assault weapons’ for recreational shooting.
The response from Raimondo: “These weapons that we’re seeking have one purpose: to kill people. And we’ve seen it over and over and over and over again in the past few years in our country that that’s what they’ve been used for, purchased legally.”
Attorney General Neronha acknowledged the proposals that he backs with Raimondo won’t prevent gun violence. But he said they could save lives.
“It’s not about saving every life, it’s about saving some lives,” he said. “If making magazines smaller, so that someone has to reload before they can fire again, and we buy one second, or two seconds or three seconds, and a first responder can take that criminal out or a person can get away, then that’s worth it.”
In a statement, Larry Berman, the spokesman for Speaker Mattiello, said, “Speaker Mattiello has a long-standing record regarding this issue. The bills, when introduced, will go through the regular legislative process.”
Greg Pare, spokesman for Senate President Ruggerio, said, “The Senate president hasn’t reviewed the new language of these bills. He will await the public testimony at a full and fair hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the guidance of the committee.”