Representative Teresa Tanzi has introduced legislation that seeks to protect the victims of domestic abuse by taking firearms out of the hands of abusers.
Called the Protect Rhode Island Families Act, the bill would prohibit gun possession by people convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors and people currently subject to final domestic abuse protective orders. It would also require domestic abusers to surrender their guns to law enforcement or to licensed gun dealers when they become prohibited. These actions would bring Rhode Island in line with federal law.
“Valentine’s Day is a time to honor those we love and I am so proud to introduce this critical legislation today that will ensure our state better protects victims of domestic abuse,” said Tanzi. “Advocates for victims and survivors of domestic abuse have come together to urge the state legislature not to let another session go by without taking action to disarm known, dangerous abusers. Rhode Islanders lives, safety, and peace of mind are at stake.”
The legislation has the support of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence, the Rhode Island Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, part of Everytown for Gun Safety.
“This is a top priority for the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence,” said Deborah DeBare, executive director of the organization. “From 1980 to 2016, 232 Rhode Islanders lost their lives as a result of domestic violence; 48 percent of those individuals were killed with firearms. Enough is enough.”
“Fifty-seven percent of mass shootings in the U.S. involved a partner or other close family member,” said Jerry Belair, President of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence. “Gun violence is a domestic violence issue. It’s time to keep victims of domestic violence safe.”
By extending the prohibition to abusers convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors for cyberstalking and cyberharassment and for violating the terms of final protective orders, the bill further empowers law enforcement to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous domestic abusers.
“States across the country have brought about change on this issue, and Rhode Island is long overdue to do the same,” said Jennifer Smith Boylan, a volunteer with the Rhode Island Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “People convicted of domestic violence crimes or subject to domestic protective orders simply should not have access to guns. Lawmakers in Providence should follow the lead of Rep. Tanzi and make this bill a priority while the legislature is in session. It’s time to protect women and families and pass this legislation.”