STATE HOUSE – Rep. Jennifer Boylan has introduced four bills to improve firearm safety in Rhode Island.
“All of us are concerned about the security of our loved ones and our community,” said Representative Boylan (D-Dist. 66, Barrington, East Providence). “These bills are reasonable improvements to current laws that will help keep everyone safer.”
One bill (2023-H 5894) would require individuals purchasing a long gun such as a shotgun or rifle to demonstrate the same gun safety credentials as individuals purchasing a pistol. Under current law, an individual purchasing a pistol must either have a hunter safety certificate or pass a basic firearms safety test. Both the test and the certificate are issued by the Department of Environmental Management (DEM). Yet there is currently no safety course or test requirement to purchase rifles or shotguns. The bill would extend the current law covering pistols to long guns and require DEM to periodically update the safety test manual and test questions.
“This feels like common sense to me,” said Representative Boylan. “If I want to captain a boat, I need to go to DEM and pass a test to prove I know basic harbor safety. If I want to drive a car, I need to pass a test to prove I know basic driver safety. If I want to purchase a rifle or shotgun, I should meet the same requirement.”
A second bill (2023-H 5892) would expand trigger lock sales requirements to include long guns. Under current law, a pistol purchased from a Rhode Island licensed retail firearms dealer must include a trigger lock or other safety device designed to prevent an unauthorized user from operating it. Rifles and shotguns do not need to meet this requirement. According to reports from the nonprofit group Everytown for Gun Safety, households that lock firearms and ammunition have a 78% lower risk of self-inflicted firearm injury and an 85% lower risk of unintentional firearm injury among children and teens, compared to those that locked neither. The bill would extend these trigger lock requirements to rifles and shotguns.
A third bill (2023-H 5893) would prohibit individuals from purchasing more than one firearm in a 30-day period. A number of exceptions would apply including for law enforcement, inheritance, participation in courses of instruction, temporary rentals at gun ranges, private security companies and licensed collectors.
A fourth bill (2023-H 5912) would require Rhode Island officials to submit information about all firearms recovered at crime scenes to both the state crime laboratory and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) tracing system. Currently, some police departments consistently use the state crime lab for analysis, but others do not. By utilizing the state crime lab and the ATF tracing systems, investigators can connect firearms to multiple shootings using ballistic analysis. This will help law enforcement track gun crimes.
Advocates say Representative Boylan’s bills are important steps to reduce gun violence.
“After cutting her teeth in the statehouse as the volunteer legislative lead for RI Moms Demand Action, Rep. Jennifer Boylan is now leading the way in the General Assembly to help save lives from gun violence, showcasing the strength of our movement,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “Our grassroots army of volunteers is proud to work alongside her this upcoming session to get her gun safety bills across the finish line.”
“Representative Boylan is fulfilling her duty to protect our communities by introducing a package of gun safety bills to require all firearms to be sold with trigger locks, increase safety training, help trace crime guns, and more — we look forward to supporting them to keep our communities safe from gun violence,” said Tony Morettini, a volunteer from the Rhode Island chapter of Moms Demand Action.
“I know this is a sensitive subject for a lot of people, and I know some folks don’t want any new firearms laws,” Representative Boylan said. “But I think most of us can agree these bills are pretty reasonable. They ensure the rights of responsible firearms owners while helping protect our communities. I look forward to working towards their passage.”