When East Greenwich legislator Anthony Giarrusso was asked about a ban on assault weapons, he talked about a bill banning bump stocks. But when it came time to vote for the bill that bans bump stocks, Giarrusso wasn’t there.
“This is my sixth session and the first time any major bill was considered on the eve of a recess,” Giarrusso, a Republican represenative, said of the Thursday vote on the so-called bump stock bill. “With that said, I scheduled business travel that would have made me unavailable for Thursday. Unfortunately, we were notified two days before the bills were going to the house floor leaving no time for some of my colleagues and me to change travel plans.”
He did not respond to a question asking if he would have voted for the bill had he been present. UPDATE: Giarrusso responded after publication of this post, writing in an email: “As has been reported, I am still away so a few days behind on email. I would have voted yes for the Bump Stock Bill as is and the Red Flag Bill with the proposed amendments to satisfy the concerns of the ACLU and preserving the rights of due process. As I have mentioned before, I do not support any civilian having weapons with military capabilities so the Bump Stock ban is an easy decision. I absolutely value and support the concept of a Red Flag law and hope that the finished product from the Senate addresses all concerned parties.”
Justine Caldwell, a Democrat who is running against Giarrusso for the District 30 House seat, issued a second news release in as many weeks accusing the incumbent of dodging on guns.
“When his constituents held a forum about these issues, Giarrusso skipped it. When they tried to arrange another, he told them he was too busy to make it. When I asked him questions about it, he dodged them. When Bob Plain asked him questions about it, he dodged them. And then, when the bills came to a vote, residents of House District 30 had no say, because Giarrusso skipped that too,” Caldwell said in the second press release (I reported on the first one here.) “We need a Representative who is interested in engaging members of the community, making decisions, and casting votes. Those are the basic elements of the job.”
Giarrusso responded to Caldwell’s press release in an email to this reporter: “I have not dodged any questions when I sincerely stated that I value the committee process and floor debates before committing to certain complicated legislation. Also, I have never dodged a vote. My attendance is excellent and missed votes in 5 1/2 sessions is miniscule (sic).”
Legislative attendance records are time-consuming to ascertain. The only record is in individual daily Journals, said House spokesman Larry Berman.