Gun application bill sparked by Westerly shooting heads to Senate floor


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ The Senate Judiciary Committee swiftly approved legislation Tuesday that would require all businesses that sell firearms to forward applications to the purchaser’s hometown police department for approval and, in some cases, Rhode Island State Police.

The bill was introduced in the wake of a deadly shooting at a Westerly housing complex in 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.

The bill would also allow gun sellers to send those applications via email.

As it’s written now, the bill would require applications to be checked by R.I. State Police only if the buyer lives in Exeter because there’s no local police department there.

The House passed similar legislation earlier this month, amending it to include a provision that applications be sent to Rhode Island State Police in all cases.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairwoman Erin Lynch Prata said the bill that was approved mirrors the same language as the House bill.

Eyewitness News spoke to Frank Saccoccio, the president of the Rhode Island Second Amendment Coalition, who argues the bill will only make things worse. He said the group made suggestions regarding the bill but they were ignored by lawmakers.

Gun shop owners who testified Tuesday night argued that the processes that are in place now are working.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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