There are big issues on the table this week in the nation’s smallest state as Rhode Island lawmakers are holding hearings on gun control legislation.
According to the Providence Journal, advocacy groups on both sides of the issue are raising the rhetoric, with gun prohibitionists from Moms Demand Action verbally sparring with pro-rights groups including the National Rifle Association, plus local organizations Rhode Island 2nd Amendment Coalition, the Federated Rhode Island Sportsmen’s Clubs, Rhode Island Revolver and Rifle Association and the Rhode Island Firearm Owners League.
Three anti-gun measures are under consideration before the House Judiciary Committee, according to the newspaper. Perhaps the most onerous of these is H6616, a three-page bill requiring a background check to purchase ammunition. This scheme is already being tried in California, but it doesn’t appear to have had any effect on criminal misuse of firearms. If passed and signed into law, it would take effect immediately.
Another bill, H7764, would prevent anyone ever convicted of possessing a firearm without a license from buying or possessing a gun, the newspaper detailed.
Then comes H7457, which seeks to raise the minimum age for buying firearms or ammunition to 21 years. Anti-gunners claim this will prevent teen suicides, school shootings and other criminal violence.
Meanwhile, there is another proposal to recognize concealed carry licenses and permits from other states, H7456. This would further the national trend toward reciprocity, essentially the same as states recognize the driver’s licenses from other states.
While the House Judiciary Committee will be meeting Wednesday afternoon for what promises to be a “marathon” session, according to the Journal, the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to meet Thursday beginning at 3 p.m. and there are 24 bills on the agenda.
Among them is Senate Bill 2653, which bans possession of ammunition magazines capable of holding more than 10 cartridges. A similar ban adopted in California has been challenged in federal court, and the lawsuit has been submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court for review. Violations of this ban, if it becomes law, would be felonies and subject to imprisonment and fines up to $5,000.
Senate Bill 2224 is an outright ban on so-called “assault weapons.” However, people who own such firearms already “would be ‘grandfathered’ subject to certain registration provisions.” Violators would be subject to fines and up to ten years in prison.
How far this legislation will go is open to speculation. Gun control efforts have not lost any momentum, especially with it being a high priority with the Joe Biden administration at the national level.