Advocates push for gun control bills before end of session


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Gun control advocates took to the State House Tuesday, calling on lawmakers to take up a bill that would ban concealed firearms on school grounds.

The Safe Schools Act would ban anyone other than a resource or peace officer from bringing a gun within 300 feet of a K-12 school or on school grounds entirely.

Members of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence, elected officials, faith leaders and advocates gathered to urge the General Assembly to take up the bill before the end of session, which is just weeks away.

Rep. Grace Diaz is the lead sponsor of the bill and says she is hopeful the legislature will act on it soon.

“Children are supposed to be first in the state,” said Diaz, D-Providence. “I know and am aware of the 2nd Amendment, but when you’re thinking of the 2nd Amendment versus children, I think everyone will agree that children come first and their safety is the most important.”

On the same day that dueling rallies were held on abortion rights, dozens of 2nd Amendment advocates were at the State House saying the Safe Schools Act infringes on their right to carry a concealed weapon.

Tensions were high during the rallies as both sides were chanting and holding signs that read, “It’s about public safety” and “Leave our rights alone.”

“We all are vetted — we all have BCI checks regularly,” Brenda Jacob of the Rhode Island Revolver and Rifle Association said. “We are not the problem and I’m afraid by enforcing gun-free zones, it will actually make our kids more vulnerable to a mass attack.”

Rhode Island State Police Col. James Manni is in support of this bill.

Larry Berman, the spokesperson for House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, said the bill was held in the House Judiciary Committee for further study.

“All bills are still under consideration until the session adjourns later this month,” Berman said.

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