RI Senate tables gun application bill; namesake of bill in question


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A gun reform bill written in response to a deadly shooting in Westerly last year has been tabled by the Rhode Island Senate.

As the bill was initially written, its namesake would honor Julie Lynn Cardinal. The 47-year-old died in a shooting at Babcock Village in Westerly last December.

Wednesday night, House lawmakers amended the bill to also include the two other victims in the shooting — Robin Moss and Donna Thornley who survived.

However, a debate ensued after this, when House Minority Leader Rep. Blake Filippi asked if those women were consulted.

“Did anyone reach out to Ms. Moss or Ms. Thornley and ask if they want their names permanently etched in our general laws as the victim of a heinous crime?” Filippi said on the House floor Wednesday night. “I wouldn’t want my name splattered all over our general laws as the victim of a shooting without even the General Assembly having the courtesy to reach out to me.”

Filippi, who represents Westerly, called for the bill to be voted down immediately Wednesday night.

WATCH: Capitol TV from Wednesday night »

The bill aims to have gun retailers forward applications to the purchaser’s hometown police department for approval, and, in some cases, Rhode Island State Police.

In the deadly shooting last December, police said the gunman, Joseph Giachello, bought the gun in Richmond two days before the shooting.

The gun application, which he filled out at the store, was then sent to the Richmond Police Department, even though Giachello — who killed himself with the gun after the shooting — lives in Westerly.

The idea behind the legislation is that a hometown police department would know more about a subject’s background than the department where the store is located. Other lawmakers didn’t want to halt progress on this, just because of the name.

Rep. Anastasia Williams wanted lawmakers to remember that while there was one unfortunate death, there were still two other victims in the shooting.

“It is, in my opinion, easier to remove it [the names] at a later time, then to not have it done when it’s right before us,” Williams said.

Lawmakers still continued to argue on behalf of Moss and Thornley.

“We need to recognize people, and especially if they’re still alive, let them make their own decision if they’re going to be on the legislation or not,” Rep. Justin Price (R) District 39 Exeter, Hopkinton, and Richmond said.

Ultimately, House Speaker Nicholas Matiello decided not moving forward with the bill now would set back proceedings, as the Senate would be meeting the day following this debate.

Thursday night, the Senate tabled the bill. Senate spokesperson Greg Paré released a statement explaining lawmakers were notified one of the surviving victims did not want to be named.

“Senate Bill 2154 was initially named after Julie Lynn Cardinal, the victim who died in the shooting at Babcock Village Apartments in Westerly late last year. With the best of intentions, it was amended in the House of Representatives to honor two additional victims of the shooting incident, both of whom survived the attack.

We recognize and appreciate the sentiments behind this action. However, we have been notified that one of the surviving victims does not want to be named. Out of respect for her wishes, we are delaying action until the Senate convenes again in order to reach out to all parties and to the House sponsor to discuss this matter.”

Greg Paré
Spokesman, R.I. Senate

There was also debate over if Ms. Cardinal’s family was contacted or not.

Eyewitness News has reached out to the family for comment.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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