Flanked by red-t-shirted members of Moms Demand Action, Gov. Gina Raimondo signed an executive order at Warwick City Hall this afternoon aimed at assisting law enforcement in removing guns from those determined to pose danger to themselves or others.
The three components of the order provide for coordination among state and local police investigating reports of significant danger, directs state agencies to create a public information campaign to help people recognize red flags, and establishes a working group to study strategy and policy.
Raimondo told the scores of Moms activists, state police, and elected officials who attended the one-hour event about how she had been grilled by her 13-year-old daughter, Cece, after the Parkland shooting. “She said, Mom, what are *you* doing about it?'” Raimondo said. “Since I’ve been Governor, I’ve lowered the flags nine times because of a mass shooting. So I can understand my daughter saying [that].”
“So I went back to my office and said what more can we do, right now, to keep Rhode Island safer.”
That led to today’s executive order, which has three components:
- *Directs law enforcement agencies to consider all red flags, including recent threats of violence made in person, in videos, and on social media, and take all available legal steps to remove firearms from any person who poses a threat to themselves or others. It also sets out minimum standards for investigations, including a criminal background check and syndication with the RI Fusion Center.
- Calls for executive offices including Health and Human Services, RIDE, and the Department of Public Safety to launch a public information campaign to recognize red flags that a person could be a violent threat and what resources are available to help.
- *Convenes a new Gun Safety Working group to study gun voice reduction strategies and support the work of the multi-state Gun Violence Research Consortium established last week by the governors of NY, CT, NJ, and Rhode Island. It will include representatives from the judiciary, the AG’s office, state and local law enforcement, gun violence prevention advocates, public heath experts, educators, and community members.
Today’s order, however, only goes so far, Raimondo told reporters. “This is a policy, directing the state police and my departments to work together to help people identify people. People could call the state police, the state police could go talk to that person, try to convince them to give up their gun. But legally, they can’t take away their gun.
“We need legislation because what we also want is a law which would then allow a police officer to go to court and have the judge legally remove the gun from the person.”
Legislation to do that — via an “extreme risk protection order” — was introduced last Friday in the RI House by Portsmouth Rep. Dennis Canario (D-71), and co-sponsored by House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello (D-15). The bill, H7688, outlines the process for obtaining protection orders from superior court.
Asked about the significance of having the Speaker as a co-sponsor, Raimondo told reporters, “I’m very encouraged. I give him a lot of credit. The legislature deserves a lot of credit, and I think they’re going to do the right thing.
Red-shirted Moms Demand Action volunteers had filled about half the seats in the Warwick Council chamber, and they were still talking in animated groups long after the politicians left and the news media packed up their cameras.
Jennifer Boylan, who leads the local chapter of Moms, told a reporter, “I’ve been working on this issue for four or five years. It’s long overdue. And I’m excited that Rhode Island is leading the way. It’s up to the states now. Let’s fix this.”
Read the full executive order: