Timothy Jones: RI Should Focus on Fixing Economy, Not Banning Guns
Saturday, March 22, 2014
This past Tuesday the Rhode Island House Judiciary Committee held hearings on a number of gun related bills. The most contentious proposals were bans of so-called “assault weapons,” magazine capacity limitations, and a bill that would create a slush fund for anti-gun groups in the state.
In response to these bills, hundreds of pro-freedom Rhode Islanders assembled at the State House to argue against their passage. A few dozen anti-gun activists, many of them from out of state, showed up to argue in favor.
Representative Joseph Almeida sponsored the bulk of the most egregious bills. One, titled the Safe Firearms Act was mostly a copy of Connecticut’s recently enacted gun ban with a few slight edits making it even harsher. A similar bill was introduced last year by Rep. Almeida, but rather than recognizing his defeat in 2013 as a call for moderation, he doubled-down in 2014 with an even stricter ban. Those aren’t the actions of a man seeking compromise. Almeida’s sponsorship was confusing at first, but upon reflection it seems more likely he submitted the bills as a favor. During his testimony on the bills, Rep. Almeida seemed as though he hadn’t even read the proposals. Given Rep. Almeida’s unfamiliarity with the bills and the verbatim language used in parts of the Connecticut bans, it’s likely these bills were model legislation pushed by out of state interests.
In complete contrast to Almeida’s fumbling responses were the testimonies of the hundreds of freedom loving Rhode Islanders who showed up to defend their rights. Hard working men and women took the day off or rushed to the State House after work to join together in opposition to the unconstitutional bills being heard. Contrary to the anti-gun crowd’s description of these patriots as racists and fear mongers, the people testifying in support of freedom were men and women of all walks of life who love their families and want to protect them. I was proud to stand with them and enjoyed getting to know many of them while we waited to testify.
It was sad to see the anti-gun ringleaders focusing their speeches and testimonies on attacking the character of these gun owners as though they were baby-killing racists from Planet X. The good men and women who showed up to the State House on Tuesday to argue in favor of keeping their freedom didn’t deserve such hateful rhetoric, but impugning the character of ones’ opponent is a tactic typical of the side arguing without the support of the facts.
Another modus operandi of the anti-gun activists is introducing radical bills based on out of state model legislation with no consultation of Rhode Island’s firearms owners and then calling for compromise after it’s too late. Leaders of the anti-gun crowd warned the NRA at their Tuesday press conference that the gun rights group should make a compromise now or face consequences. But their actions speak of an entirely different agenda. Instead of actually reaching out a hand in good faith, they would prefer to use a faux call for compromise as a cudgel in the media. This tactic played out in even starker terms last year when the governor, the State Police, and legislative leaders wrote a number of bills in the proverbial “smoke filled room,” and then unveiled them hastily and without input at a press conference. Similar calls for supporters of the second amendment to compromise were made then. But no one from the pro-second amendment community was invited to discuss solutions before having them shoved down our throats. Just like this year.
A Radical Agenda
When I drive up to the State House to fight this type of radical agenda, the greatest concern I bring with me is that here in the Ocean State we have so much more important work to do and could implement even more effective ways of decreasing crime. Studies show that violent crime is linked to weak economies. It is no secret that Rhode Island’s economy is one of the weakest in the nation. Putting people back to work and giving them hope for a decent future would do infinitely more good than banning guns.
At www.rigunblog.com, we work hard on defeating this type of bad legislation. We also invite Rhode Islanders to come out to the many public shooting events around the state. Come see what shooting is all about and meet the great people that participate in shooting sports. These folks aren’t the demons the anti-gun crowd makes them out to be. We’re parents and doctors, engineers and electricians and quite plainly, Rhode Islanders just like you. We’re all neighbors here in this, the smallest of states, and we all want to live in safe communities. But there are better solutions to achieving that goal than banning firearms, creating slush funds for professional advocates, or diminishing freedom. Please join us in advocating for better solutions.
Related Slideshow: The Influence of Gun Money in New England States
New Data from The Sunlight Foundation shows state-by-state breakdowns for donations to groups on both sides of the gun debate. The money went toward candidates, political parties, and political action committees (PACs), but doesn't include donations to independent or so-called “super PACs”.
See how much money went to candidates in each of the New England States in the slides below.
- Arthur C. Schaper: 2013 So Far–38 Studios, Babysitters, and Guns
- RI State Report: Guns, Early Bird Liquor + Chafee’s Image Problem
- Arthur Schaper: Guns, Prizes, and the Dems’ Wedge Issues
- RI State Report: Strip Clubs, Guns + Drugs
- Carol Anne Costa: Money, Guns + Lawmakers
- State Report: School Safety, Climate Change + Firearm Legislation
- Controversial Gun Package – Breaking Down the Nine Gun Safety Bills
- Don Roach: RI GOP Gun Raffle Shows Moxie
- Fung and Block: Do Either Represent GOP on Guns?
- Gun Money’s Influence in Rhode Island
- RI State Report: Block v. Raimondo, RI Goes Green + Gun Violence