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Timothy Jones: RI Should Focus on Fixing Economy, Not Banning Guns

Saturday, March 22, 2014

 

Putting people back to work and giving them hope for a decent future would do infinitely more good than banning guns, believes Timothy Jones.

The first thing you have to understand about Rhode Island’s gun laws, is that they are not lenient. The Brady Campaign ranked Rhode Island as having the 8th strictest laws in the country in 2011, the most recent ranking available. It’s doubtful we’ve since fallen from the top 10. Rhode Islanders are subjected to background checks before buying firearms, waiting periods, draconian rules regarding how and where firearms can be transported, and a labyrinthine concealed carry permitting system. With that in mind, any additional infringements on the freedom of Rhode Islanders to own firearms must be questioned.

Gun-Related Legislation

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.

Unfair Attacks

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.

 

Timothy Jones is Editor in Chief of RIGunBlog.com, and Associate Editor of Richard C. Young’s Intelligence Report. You can follow him on Twitter at: @timothyojones

 

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.

Prev Next

Rhode Island

State Candidates

Control $: 0

Rights $: 229650

Federal Candidates

Control $: 19557

Rights $: 5612

Prev Next

Massachusetts

State Candidates

Control $: 2850

Rights $: 20538

Federal Candidates

Control $: 54058

Rights $: 104579

Prev Next

Maine

State Candidates

Control $: 8325

Rights $: 51700

Federal Candidates

Control $: 27318

Rights $: 142505

Prev Next

Connecticut

State Candidates

Control $: 4076

Rights $: 56200

Federal Candidates

Control $: 43666

Rights $: 121596

Prev Next

Vermont

State Candidates

Control $: 0

Rights $: 40330

Federal Candidates

Control $: 4500

Rights $: 7550

Prev Next

New Hampshire

State Candidates

Control $: 1500

Rights $: 22475

Federal Candidates

Control $: 34337

Rights $: 293560

 
 

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