Raimondo orders flags at half-staff; renews push for stronger gun laws

Politics

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Gov. Gina Raimondo on Monday directed all U.S. and Rhode Island flags to be flown at half-staff in the wake of this weekend’s mass shootings that claimed the lives of 31 people.

On Saturday morning, a gunman opened fire in a busy shopping plaza in El Paso, Texas, killing 20 and wounding more than a dozen. Two more victims died at the hospital on Monday.

Hours later in Dayton, Ohio, nine people were killed and at least 26 were injured after another shooter opened fire in a popular nightlife area.

Speaking to Eyewitness News Monday morning, Raimondo said these tragedies make it clear to her that change is necessary and that action must be taken at the legislative level.

This past session, the Democratic governor backed a trio of bills that would’ve banned so-called “assault-style” weapons, high-capacity magazines and firearms from school grounds, with some exceptions.

Advocates said the measures would make Rhode Island safer but those who opposed the bills were worried they would infringe on Second Amendment rights and wouldn’t stop criminals from getting their hands on guns.

None of the bills made it out of committee, and now Raimondo is questioning what it will take for legislative leaders to bring such bills to a floor vote.

“I just keep wondering how many shootings have to happen before we can get together, take action, and ban these military-style weapons,” she said. “I bet you—this is a horrible thing to say—I bet, God forbid, if there were a shooting of that kind in Rhode Island, finally the general assembly would do the right thing. Why do we have to wait for that?”

Related: What to do if you’re in a mass shooting situation »

Raimondo vowed to continue her push for stronger gun control measures next legislative session.

President Donald Trump ordered U.S. flags to be flown at half-staff. He too called for bipartisan cooperation to strengthen the country’s gun laws, and said that “our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy.”

Members of Rhode Island’s congressional delegation are also demanding change in response to the mass shootings. Democratic Sen. Jack Reed and Congressman David Cicilline called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring the Senate back into session this week to vote on gun safety reforms.

“This is a time that demands not words but actions,” Cicilline said in a statement. “The House has already sent two gun violence bills to the Senate. Mitch McConnell has refused to bring either bill to the floor.”

“Congress can and should take action to prevent these assault-weapon mass-killing sprees,” Reed said. “It starts with stronger background checks and should include additional measures, like reinstating an assault weapons ban, to keep these military-grade weapons out of the wrong hands.

“Historically speaking, the assault weapons ban has had bipartisan support and it will take bipartisan action to put a stop to these senseless mass-shootings,” he continued. “Weapons designed for the military have been used to kill children in schools, worshippers in houses of prayer, festivals, nightclubs, shopping centers, and everywhere else. When will it be enough to say ‘no’ to the NRA?”

“As we have seen time and time again, it is far too easy for bad people to buy guns in our country,” Cicilline added. “Congress must act now.”

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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