PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin announced Tuesday he plans to introduce legislation regulating the sale of long guns in the state.
The announcement comes just a day after Gov. Gina Raimondo signed an executive order to institute a “red flag” policy and on the same day several bills are set to be introduced at the State House to strengthen Rhode Island’s gun laws.
The present law outlines different purchasing requirements for handguns and long guns. Under current law, a person seeking to buy a handgun must be 21 years old and must show proof of completing a firearms safety training course through the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management.
The requirements to purchase a long gun, such as an assault rifle, are less strict. Currently, a person must be 18 years old instead and firearms safety training is not required.
“It is preposterous to think a person can walk into a gun shop on their 18th birthday and purchase an AR-15 or another assault rifle with zero experience or training in properly handling a firearm,” Kilmartin said in a statement.
“There are more requirements for a person to drive a motor vehicle than there are for purchasing an assault rifle,” he continued. “There is no legitimate reason for Rhode Island to have two sets of requirements when purchasing a firearm, and this legislation creates a basic set of rules, no matter the gun, for everyone to follow.”
In order to address these concerns, Kilmartin has proposed making the requirements for purchasing both types of gun the same.
“I believe this is a reasonable and sensible measure that will enhance public safety,” Kilmartin said.
Kilmartin says the legislation helps close firearm loopholes in the state that lead to contradictory regulation. For example, the current law allows a person to carry certain firearms without a permit in the open, yet requires permits for a concealed firearm.
“We don’t need to turn the streets of Rhode Island into a war zone and need to close this dangerous loophole before someone gets hurt,” Kilmartin added.
The law would include several exemptions, including the legal use of firearms for hunting, and lawful target shooting.
Penalties for violation of the law would be the same as the current penalties for someone convicted or carrying a handgun or rifle without a permit. These include one to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.
The law would also increase the sentence for anyone convicted of giving a firearm to a minor who then uses it to commit a violent crime. Currently, the prison term is 10 to 20 years in prison. The proposed legislation would increase the minimum sentence to 15 years.