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.
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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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