Hearing on gun bills postponed due to coronavirus concerns

Coronavirus

Large crowd was expected to show for committee's discussion

Rhode Island State House

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Since a large crowd was expected Wednesday night for a House Judiciary Committee hearing to address a long list of bills related to firearms, the Rhode Island Department of Health has recommended the hearing be postponed to a later date.

R.I. General Assembly spokesman Larry Berman announced the decision by House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello in a statement shortly before noon Wednesday. All other House committee hearings can proceed as scheduled.

Concerns over possible spreading of the novel coronavirus prompted the “strong suggestion” from Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, the state’s health director. Dr. Alexander-Scott noted that the virus can be spread among people close contact — less than six feet apart.

“Cancelling or postponing large events is an important tool to limit the spread in Rhode Island,” she said in a statement officially making the suggestion to Mattiello.

Some 17 bills concerning firearms or weapons were on the agenda for Wednesday night’s hearing, including H.7327, which would raise the minimum age for owning a firearm from 18 to 21. The others:

  • H.7263: Defines “assault weapons” and bans selling them if they’re not registered
  • H.7264: Defines large-capacity weapons feeding devices and bans them
  • H.7472: Banning teachers from being offered an incentive to get firearms licenses
  • H.7591: Allowing law enforcement officers to use silencers
  • H.7595: Ordering an annual report of everyone who faced a criminal charge involving a firearm during the prior year, as well as firearms charges that were dropped
  • H.7633: Banning the purchase of firearms on behalf of someone prohibited by law from possessing them
  • H.7715: Expanding definitions of officers allowed to possess firearms on school grounds
  • H.7716: Outlaws possessing a loaded rifle or shotgun in public, with exceptions
  • H.7720: Increases penalties for failing to store firearms securely
  • H.7741: Creates appeal process if an applicant is denied a firearms permit or a permit to sell a firearm
  • H.7752: Allows carrying firearms during a mandatory evacuation
  • H.7756 and H.7909: Both these bills add “taser” (stun guns) to definitions of firearms
  • H.7911: Allows a lawsuit to be filed against anyone who prohibits possessing a firearm on their property, even those who have a license to carry
  • H.7928: Requiring anyone buying a gun to release their medical records for the past 5 years related to addiction to controlled substance or alcoholism, and/or mental illness
  • H.7957: Adds department of corrections’ “chief inspectors and inspectors” to those allowed to possess firearms

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