RI House OKs bills on guns, DACA, revenge porn

Politics

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — In a flurry of activity ahead of its spring recess, the Rhode Island House voted to approve a number of high-profile bills Thursday evening.

Two gun control bills introduced in the wake of separate mass shootings are aimed at preventing gun violence. One would ban bump stocks and the other would create a “red flag” policy. Those passed by votes of 65-3 and 60-8, respectively.

House lawmakers also approved by a 68-0 vote a bill that would criminalize revenge porn and “sextortion,” revising the legislation after a 2016 veto.

A 4th bill passed Thursday would continue to allow the so-called “Dreamers” to continue to have Rhode Island driver’s licenses even if their federal DACA protections go away. 

The four bills now move to the Senate for consideration.

The “red flag” legislation garnered a lengthy debate before passage, as mainly Republican lawmakers questioned its constitutionality, a concern shared by the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island.

‘It’s a real violation of rights,” House Minority Leader Patricia Morgan said. “We want to keep guns out the hands of people who are a danger to themselves and others…but we can’t do it with a flawed piece of legislation.”

The bill would allow police to petition a Superior Court judge for an “extreme risk protection order” when presented with evidence that a person is at risk of committing gun violence or suicide with a gun.

The judge could issue a temporary order to remove the guns, with a hearing scheduled within 14 days to determine if a longer-term order could be put in place based on the person being a danger to him or herself or others.

The person would be able to petition the court once per year to get their guns back. The bill was amended before passage to say that a gun owner would get their firearms back within 10 days of the protective order expiring.

The bill was introduced after the Parkland, Florida school shooting, where the gunman had multiple “red flags” reported to police that were not acted upon.

“That particular person who shot all those kids…his guns would’ve been confiscated before it happened,” said Rep. Carol McEntee, D-South Kingstown. “We wouldn’t have lost all those children and teachers.”

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, a Democrat who has received high grades from the National Rifle Association, supported both gun control measure that passed Thursday.

“You have to do what’s right for society in total, and I think these are common sense measures to protect society from people that shouldn’t have guns,” Mattiello said in an interview with Eyewitness News.

Mattiello joined Gov. Gina Raimondo at an event before the vote hosted by Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a group advocating for a list of gun control measures.

“We’re going to be able to give the police the tools to actually respond appropriately when there are red flags that an extreme risk restraining order is necessary,” Mattiello said.

In her remarks, Raimondo mentioned a controversial assault-weapons ban to which Mattiello has not warmed.

“Who knows, maybe we’ll get to a full-on military style weapons ban at some point,” Raimondo said to applause from the crowd.

The assault weapons ban will be considered later this session along with a bill to ban high-capacity magazines and a gun-free schools bill, all of which have steep hills to climb.

The ban on bump stocks garnered little debate among lawmakers Thursday, though it is still opposed by the NRA’s Rhode Island affiliate, the RI 2nd Amendment Coalition.

Bump stocks are tools that can modify a semi-automatic weapon to fire at a rate of speed similar to an automatic weapon. The devices were reportedly used by the gunman in the Las Vegas concert shooting last year that killed 58 people.

The revenge porn bill passed unanimously, and is expected to pass this year after being vetoed by Raimondo back in 2016. The compromise bill says that a person must have an “intent to harm” when they post explicit photos of another person without his or her consent. 

Mattiello said he thought the original bill better protected victims whose photos were disseminated, but Raimondo vetoed it out of free speech concerns.

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

Providence

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