RI students take to State House to protest inaction on gun safety bill

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Students from across Rhode Island are calling on state lawmakers to pass a bill they believe could prevent school shootings.

Wearing t-shirts with bullseyes on their backs, hundreds of students flooded the State House gallery Wednesday, standing with their backs to the House floor. The students then kneeled with their hands behind their heads.

R.I. Coalition Against Gun Violence spokesperson Kat Kerwin said the students are protesting the lack of action from lawmakers on passing the Safe Schools Act.

The act would eliminate a loophole that allows anyone with a concealed carry permit to bring a gun into schools and sporting events without notifying administrations that they are armed. The new bill also proposes to ban weapons altogether on school grounds.

“Even if the Safe Schools Act saves one life, it’s worth it,” Toll Gate student Grace Reed said. “We’ve banned lawn darts and Kinder Surprise Eggs in the United States, so obviously we’re not opposed to passing regulatory legislation to protect our people. Banning the concealed carry guns in schools will help prevent both tragic accidents and intentional incidents of gun violence in the future. That is why I protested today, because I understand we need change now.”

Kerwin said the group hopes that the protest will persuade state lawmakers to pass the act.

In response to the demonstration, the Rhode Island Second Amendment Coalition released a statement:

“It is terrible to exploit the children to wear bullseyes and targets on their backs to support a bill which will not make our schools safer. We need real security measures to protect our school children, not a ‘Gun Free Zone’ bill.”

Both the House and Senate versions of the bill were held for further study earlier this year.

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