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Controversial Gun Package – Breaking Down the Nine Gun Safety Bills

Thursday, May 02, 2013


A nine-bill controversial gun safety package was presented before the RI House Judiciary Committee last night. Both opponents and proponents of gun legislation and safety testified before the House Judiciary in a marathon meeting that ran well into the morning hours. More than two hundred (200) people were signed up to testify as of close of business yesterday afternoon.

The nine bills included in the package, developed in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings covered several areas of firearms law with the primary focus on strengthening current laws and enacting legislation supportive of gun safety. 

Hundreds showed up at the State House to testify.

Testimony before the committee was limited to ninety (90) seconds per person due to the hundreds of people who showed up to testify. Law enforcement officials, residents, gun owners, medical professionals and government officials presented their arguments either for or against the packaged legislation or individual bills.

Providence City Council member, Seth Yurdin spoke in support of the Governor's package and specifically Representative Linda Finn's bill 5573 that was not a part of the package.

“It's very good that this body is taking up this issue, Yurdin said. "It's one of the critical issues of our time. We look at the issue of mass shootings. There have been approximately sixty-two (62) of them since 1982 which has killed about one thousand people and wounded another one thousand. We look at youth deaths in this country. In 2008 and 2009 more children were killed by intentional gunfire than soldiers that we lost in Iraq and Afghanistan over that period,” he said.

“That's a two year period that was about 6000 children and teens and the United States lost about 5000 people killed in action. This is an incredibly tragic issue. I'm glad that this body is taking up the issue and I trust that they will make the right decision and move things forward,” said Yurdin.

The National Rifle Association - Crime isn't going to disappear.

Speaking as a lobbyist on behalf of the National Rifle Association was Darin Goens who took issue with the bills and prior testimony, voicing general opposition to what he termed “simple inconsistencies to gross ideological fallacies. 

“The best comment that was made all night was from Representative Walsh,” he said. “In looking at these bills you have to ask yourself one question. What impact is it going to have on crime?,” Goens asked, quoting Representative Donna Walsh, (D -Dist. 36).

“I think the clear answer to that is that it is not going to make one bit of difference,” said Goens. “Realistically, if we pass all of this stuff, who thinks that we are going to go into Providence tomorrow and crime is going to disappear overnight. It’s simply not going to happen.”

Goens who testified after listening to others speak for five hours, spoke as to the inconsistency in information given. 

“I have the unique luxury of doing this for a living and multiple states and hearing these statistics over and over again,” he said. “And it’s astounding to me the vast amounts of information you guys have heard today - from 30,000 gun murders which includes suicides, justified self-defenses, police shootings - I could go on and on. It raises the question who writes these laws. [These] bills aren’t going to make one bit of difference.”

Mental health issues - a key factor in considering advancement of the package

Reverend Donald Anderson, Chaplain of Rhode Island Minister’s Alliance and former Executive Minister for the Rhode Island State Council of Churches testified in favor of the bills. 

“Recently lawmakers in Washington failed to pass reasonable common sense legislation regarding gun in America. it is my sincere prayer that the crisis of the lack of courage as demonstrated in Washington will not be repeated here in Rhode Island. Please move this package of legislation forward to the full House for debate and hopefully passage,” he said. 

Reverend Anderson also addressed the issue of mental health awareness when considering gun safety legislation. 

“I especially want to commend House Bill 5992 that establishes a task force to study the issues between gun violence and behavioral health issues. This thoughtful approach to complicated issues related to mental health and firearms will be our best hope at arriving at a fair and hopeful approach to this issue.”

The hearing ended at 12:30 AM with a quote from Representative Walsh. 

"This is a complex problem," she said. "And if I can quote H.L. Mencken, he once said, "“For every problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong.” 

The gun safety package. 

2013-H 5286 – Sponsored by Rep. Robert E. Craven (D-Dist. 32, North Kingstown), this bill addresses firearms that have had identifying marks altered. The bill would make it unlawful for any person to receive, transport or possess any firearm that has had the maker, model, manufacturer’s number or other identifying mark removed or altered. The bill makes exception for antique or collectible weapons legally possessed by collectors.

2013-H 5576 – Sponsored by Rep. Maria Cimini (D-Dist. 7, Providence), this bill would pertains to possession of firearms by minors. The bill would make possession of a firearm by a minor illegal. Exception is made in the bill for minors in the prescence of a qualified adult or one who is participating in competitive or ceremonial events.

2013-H 5990 – Sponsored by Rep. Joseph S. Almeida (D-Dist. 12, Providence), this bill pertains to the semi-automatic weapons. The bill would impose restrictions on the manufacture, transfer and possession of certain semiautomatic assault weapons. The bill also calls for the ban of large-capacity ammunition feed devices.

2013-H 5991 – This bill sponsored by Rep. Martin L. Abney (D-Dist. 73, Newport, Middletown) pertains to stolen firearms. The bill would increase criminal penalties for persons found in possession of a stolen firearm during the commission of a violent crime.

2013-H 5992 – This bill sponsored by Rep. Deborah Ruggiero (D-Dist. 74, Jamestown, Middletown) pertains to creation of a mental health task force. The bill would create the Behavioral Health and Firearms Safety Task force to review and make recommendations for statutes relating to firearms and behavioral health issues.

2013-H 5993 – This bill sponsored by Rep. Larry Valencia (D-Dist. 39, Richmond, Hopkinton, Exeter) pertains to criminal background checks. The bill would require national criminal records check in order to obtain a license or permit to carry a pistol or revolver in the State of Rhode Island. The bill would place the issuance of licenses and permits under the sole purview of the Attorney General’s office.

2013-H 5994 – Sponsored by Rep. Gregg Amore (D-Dist. 65, East Providence), this bill pertains to the purchase of firearms by those with prior criminal history. The bill would make it illegal for a person convicted of an offense punishable as a misdemeanor offense or one who is a fugitive from justice from purchasing, owning, carrying, transporting or possessing any firearm. The bill also imposes penalties for those in violation of the bill. The bill also addresses licensing requirements, possession of machine guns, transportation of rifles or shotguns.

2013-H 5995 – This bill sponsored by Rep. Teresa Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, South Kingstown, Narragansett) pertains to the creation of a taskforce to develop and review firearms legislation. The bill would create the Task Force on Firearms Statutes to review and make recommendations for revising the state’s gun laws.


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Every one of these bills does ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to prevent any tragedy like the Newtown incident from occurring again. Decimating law-abiding gun owners rights with useless laws like these won't make it any harder for criminals to get guns, especially since many of the guns criminals use are stolen, illegally brought into the country, or obtained through other illegitimate means.

To all of the brain-dead legislators who say "But we have to do something, we can't just do nothing", the answer I have for you is: Do something to actually address the problem. Criminals don't follow laws to begin with, that's why they're criminals, so don't waste time on trampling law-abiding citizens' 2nd Amendment (and RI Constitutional) rights!!! This nonsense proposed above is all useless garbage that won't do anything to address the Newtown-type concerns, and is therefore useless and unnecessary with regards to the issue we're attempting to deal with.

Comment #1 by Russ Hryzan on 2013 05 02

If Representatives Doreen DeCosta of North Kingston and Brian Newberry of North Smithfield, the twin faces of the NRA in Rhode, are correct that some advocates of tighter gun control are "uneducated" about firearms, it is only fair to point out their own lack of knowledge concerning assault rifles.

DeCosta and Newberry have repeatedly claimed that there is no practical difference between a commercially available assault rifle and a semi-automatic hunting rifle. Because both use the same semi-automatic firing system, each pull of the trigger causing a shot, her implication is that the one weapon will kill as quickly and surely as the other. But this is nonsense. Knowledgeable gun owners know it.

The assault rifle was invented by the Germans during WWII. They had noted a weakness among the rifles used by themselves and the other armies, including the American semi-automatic M-1. They had noticed that while most combat shooting took place at ranges under 300 yards, these standard rifles were designed for ranges up to four times that distance. Their powder cartridges, therefore, were big and consequently gave a heavy "kick" when fired. The kick had the effect of bucking the muzzle upward, off-target, compelling the shooter to carefully drop the muzzle and re-align his sights before firing again. The seeming advantage of the semi-automatic M-1, with its eight-shot magazine, was thus negated; pulling the trigger as fast as you could only resulted in an arc of bullets climbing high over your target's head while the alternative, taking the time to re-acquire your target if you had missed or had another to shoot, was flirting with suicide on the modern battlefield. A weapon was needed that could put accurate, rapidly repeated fire on target during the lightning-quick intervals that real combat afforded.

The German solution was to reduce that kick. They cut the length of their standard cartridge almost in half. With less powder the kick was so reduced that you could now hold very quick bursts of both semi-automatic and automatic fire steadily on target. To maintain volume of fire they added a 30 round magazine. To make handling more nimble they shortened the barrel. Confronted with this weapon, the "Sturmgewehr 44," the smart GI kept both his face and his M-1 firmly pressed in the dirt while he called in artillery.

In the 50's, Eugene Stoner, an American, doubled down on that essential concept of kick reduction to improve accuracy and rate of fire. While the Germans had retained their large standard rifle bullet in the Stg 44, and the Russians had done the same with their post-war AK-47, Stoner abandoned the US army's .30 caliber equivalent for a much lighter projectical, the .223---a bullet of about the same diameter as the ones you plink tin ducks with at the carnival. Stoner's rifle had such light recoil that you could fire it on full automatic butted up to your nose. Anyone, no matter how slight of frame, male or female, could become deadly proficient with it in half the time it took to master the old rifles with their big bucking cartridges.

Stoner called it the AR-15. The army bought it and called it the M-16, and today equips its soldiers with the latest version, the M-4. Various companies have since held license to sell Stoner's semi-automatic version to the public. This rifle, currently branded the AR-15 "Bushmaster," was the one used by the diminutive Adam Lanza to slaughter the first graders and teachers of Newtown Elementary School. It is a weapon designed in every detail to put a high volume of accurate fire on human beings in order to kill them as quickly as possible. By this bloody measure of efficiency, no semi-automatic hunting rifle or target rifle---not even great grandfather's storied M-1---compares to the AR-15 Bushmaster.

This is the history that gun-lobby leaders DeCosta and Newberry either do not know or slyly refrain from telling you.

Remember them, though, when you vote in 2014. I am a teacher, and the opponents of these two will automatically receive a two hundred dollar check from me. I hope all sensible Rhode Island voters do the same.

Comment #2 by william eccleston on 2013 05 02

I am also a teacher, and I'll be donating to Costa and Newberry for their principled stand in defense of the second amendment.

Comment #3 by Mike Govern on 2013 05 02

Useless laws that will have ZERO effect on crime.

Meanwhile, law-abiding citizens will likely be caught up in numerous technical violations of these ambiguous laws. Our 'leaders' are rushing to judgement. This whole situation is analogous to the infamous Station nightclub fire incident, which caused a hasty re-writing of the state's fire codes, which then became indecipherable.

Comment #4 by Dave Johnson on 2013 05 02

william eccleston,
Thank you for that beautifully written piece that is completely pointless. In your prideful writing your missed a line that completely destroys your argument. Paragraph 5 you write “you could fire it on full automatic butted up to your nose.” The definition of semi is “partially, partly, not completely” so you cannot fire any AR-15 on fully automatic.

Also semi-automatics are not assault rifles, so I suggest that you, like your progressive peers, stop attacking the 2nd amendment and concentrate your fire at Hollywood and the entertainment industry, which has far more reach than the NRA.

A good teacher does not blame the tools, much like you as a teacher would not blame a poorly written essay on a pencil. We don't blame cars for drunk driving accidents or a knife is someone chops off a limb. So why, I ask do you blame the instrument here?

Also, can progressives such as yourself stop using the phrases “common sense” “reasonable” or “sensible ”. It's one thing to not base your argument on facts but please you don't have to be condescending about it.

To quote the trailblazer of AWB's, Sen Dianne Feinstein "Mr. President, I'm sure background checks will stop many would-be murderers but they would have not prevented Newtown,"

Thank you for playing, I really hope you are not a US History teacher

Comment #5 by Silence Dogood on 2013 05 02

I am just dumbfounded that we continue to debate bills, citing the carnage at Sandy Hook, when nothing being discussed would have prevented Sandy Hook. The lone possible exception is the mental health piece. And that would not have prevented Newtown. This whole argument is simply Orwellian. The problem with gun deaths in this country is handguns. No one is going to outlaw handguns. The 21 people shot in Chicago this week were shot with handguns. By criminals. Who ignored the same laws being debated. Are you politicians insane? No, you want control. Gun control is CONTROL.

Comment #6 by Dave Barry on 2013 05 02

Mr. Eccleston -

Thank you. I haven't read such a steaming pile of dog-doot all in one article in ages.

Nice attempt to obfuscate the truth and demonize these two courageous representatives.

It's obvious you know nothing of firearms, and badly underestimated your readers.

You prove yet again, never ever trust a gun controller. Ever.

Comment #7 by paul zecchino on 2013 05 02

These self-serving, self-glorifying feel-good laws yet again separate law abiding citizens from their liberty and money, while not reducing crime one whit.

The few criminals who even realize these laws exist will quickly figure out ways to beat them, and laugh as they continue to commit crimes.

Never ever trust a gun-controller, ever.

Comment #8 by paul zecchino on 2013 05 02

You know, I just never could resist throwing a rock at a hornet's nest...

Yes, Mike, he who gets the most votes wins. That's been the American way since the days when my great grandfather used to shoot individuals who had a contrary view with his government supplied 7-shot level action Spencer rifle.

For you real, rip-roaring gun-nuts, here's a fun proposal: Let's get into a video game, each of you armed with an M-1 "just a semi-automatic" and me with the Bushmaster. Urban terrain, jungle, you name it. We'll shoot it out. Then---since you evidently can't read---you will experience the assault rifle difference.

Sounds like fun!

Comment #9 by william eccleston on 2013 05 03

Looks like William has had his feelings hurt. Why didn’t you try engaging in an intelligent debate? Do you do this with your students? You are SO obsessed with the weapon you completely ignored all our points. The fact that you are citing a video game for your defense, proves how defenseless your argument is.

Comment #10 by Silence Dogood on 2013 05 03

@william eccleston

Terrain wide open field. So as I stay out past 460m of you and your M-16 variant firing 5.56, say out at 750m and turn you into swiss cheese with the M1 variant firing .308 NATO, then we can talk?

Have you noticed, as a teacher the Bill of Rights, and what they all have in common? Restrictions. Restrictions on Federal Government power not citizens. Have you noticed it doesn't grant rights it recognizes them?

There is no compromise, firearms banners give up nothing in these battles, they just take from others.

Explain what new laws will do. After all we have laws against murder, felons having firearms, firearms around and on school property removal or changing serial numbers and even interstate travel with a gun to commit a crime.

Comment #11 by Wuggly Ump on 2013 05 03

ROFLMAO @ william eccleston's nonsensical argument.

Comment #12 by Dave Johnson on 2013 05 03

Mr. Eccleston,

What's your point?

Comment #13 by Robert Anthony on 2013 05 03

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