House approves gun application bill sparked by Westerly shooting


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The R.I. House of Representatives has approved legislation to send certain firearm applications to the buyer’s hometown police department and the Rhode Island State Police.

The bill was introduced in the wake of a deadly shooting at an assisted living facility in Westerly in December. Police said the alleged gunman, Joseph Giachello, bought the gun in Richmond two days before the shooting.

The gun application, filled out at the store, was then sent to Richmond Police, 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 gun store is located.

“The precipitous event of Westerly is really what drove it,” Rep, Daniel McKiernan, who sponsored the bill, said. “Your locality is going to know you better than the police chief of the locality where you decide to purchase a firearm.”

The bill also allows gun sellers to send the applications via email.

The House approved the bill in a vote of 58-7 on Thursday after amending it to add that gun applications should also be sent to the R.I. State Police. It now goes to the Senate, where similar legislation has been introduced.

Gun shop owner Jim Connors said he supports the bill. He believes it’s fair and the most sensible thing to do and that nobody wants an unsafe person to have access to a firearm.

Some gun shop owners tell Eyewitness News they have concerns about the bill and question if it’s even necessary.

The House was also expected to vote on a bill to ban 3-D printed guns on Thursday, but the vote was postponed until next week. The Senate has already passed a 3-D gun ban this session.

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