It was standing room only in the State Room at the State House this afternoon as activists, survivors, and elected officials gathered to witness Gov. Gina Raimondo sign the Protect RI Families Act, which restricts access to firearms for domestic abusers.
Gov. Raimondo, in introductory remarks, noted that elected officials always tend to offer prayers after gun violence events. “And I’ll keep doing that, “ she said, “But today, we are also taking action.”
The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Teresa Tanzi and Sen. Harold Metts, prohibits gun possession by anyone convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence crimes, bringing Rhode Island in line with federal law. The bill also extends protection to victims who have a protective order in place, and provides a mechanism for surrendering weapons to a responsible third party.
House Speaker Nick Mattielo praised the persistence and determination of Rep. Tanzi in moving the bill forward. Sen. Metts thanked his colleagues, specifically Senate Judiciary Chair Erin Lynch Prada, for their support.
Tanzi, who received a sustained standing ovation from the more than 100 attendees, thanked her colleagues, all the activists, and especially all the domestic violence survivors. They came to the State House to testify year after year, Tanzi said, praising their bravery in opening themselves up.
There were large contingents from the RI Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Moms Demand Action, and the RI Coalition Against Gun Violence, who all gathered around Gov. Raimondo for the signing.