PORTSMOUTH, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee is expected to soon sign three gun-related bills into law, including one that would ban higher-capacity magazines.
The controversial measure received significant pushback before it was ultimately approved by the General Assembly this week.
Those who support the ban say it will enhance public safety and save lives, but a local firearms dealer tells 12 News he fears it could mean the end of his livelihood.
“It’s devastating,” said Jeff Goyette, owner of Pocasset Arms LLC. “I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
Goyette is in the process of opening a new retail store in Portsmouth.
“I’ve got my life invested in this shop right now, and I haven’t even finished it,” he said.
Now, the ban on high-capacity magazines has stopped him in his tracks.
“This is hurting the law-abiding citizens, and it’s killing the dealers in this state,” Goyette said.
The bill makes it illegal for individuals to possess, sell or transfer a magazine that can hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
“In the past few years that I’ve been stocking up, trying to get them into my retail store, probably over $250,000 worth of firearms,” Goyette said. “Eighty percent of those probably hold more than 10 rounds.”
Once the ban is signed into law, Rhode Islanders who already own the devices have 180 days to comply with the ban. They can either modify their magazine so it does not hold more than 10 rounds, surrender it to police, or sell it to people in other states where they’re still legal.
As it’s written, the ban doesn’t apply to federally licensed firearms dealers, but Goyette said he and other business owners still have plenty of questions and concerns about where to go from here.
“We can’t move what we have in 180 days. Are we felons, as dealers?” Goyette said. “Our hands are tied right now. We don’t have those answers, and we need them.”
12 News reached out to the attorney general’s office for clarification. A spokesperson said dealers would not be able to sell these types of magazines in Rhode Island, or to Rhode Island residents, once the bill takes effect.
Dealers can, however, potentially sell the magazines online to buyers in other states where they remain legal, according to the AG’s office.
Second Amendment supporters have told 12 News they plan to challenge the ban in court, if it becomes law.
Ted Nesi contributed to this report.