RI lawmakers debate gun-related bills

Local News

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — After debating marijuana legalization earlier this month and discussing abortion before that, Rhode Island’s House lawmakers took up another hot button issue Tuesday night on Smith Hill.

The House Judiciary Committee is slated to hear 15 gun-related bills, some of which aim to strengthen or loosen the state’s firearm laws.

By 5 p.m. Tuesday, dozens of people were already signed up to testify for and against some of the bills. One piece of legislation would allow only peace officers and those approved by school authorities for educational purposes may carry guns on school grounds.

“We feel like it’s a disaster waiting to happen,” said Sydney Montstream-Quas, director of operations at the RI Coalition Against Gun Violence, who’s expected to testify in favor of the bill.

“We have the chiefs of police on our side and many of the school committees and principals’ associations,” she continued. “They all recognize that guns don’t belong in schools.”

Scott McCarthy, a Tiverton resident set to testify against the legislation, referred to active shooter situations like the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

“I’m certainly against banning people who have legal concealed carry permits from schools because that is their only first line of defense,” said McCarthy.

Another bill set to be discussed would criminalize the manufacturing, sale or transfer of any high-capacity magazines, while another says that anyone convicted of a crime involving a firearm cannot be eligible for parole.Eyewitness News is at the statehouse for the hearings and will have the latest at 10 on Fox Providence and 11 on WPRI 12.

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