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7/17/2020 Caldwell cosponsors bills on gun background checks, parental rights
STATE HOUSE – Rep. Justine Caldwell cosponsored several of the bills passed by the House of Representatives yesterday concerning parental rights and preventing gun violence.

Representative Caldwell (D-Dist. 30, East Greenwich, West Greenwich) is a cosponsor of the Julie Lynn Cardinal Act (2020-H 7103Baa), which will require gun sellers to forward firearm applications to the police department of the city or town where the buyer resides for a background check, or the State Police if the purchaser resides outside Rhode Island or in the town of Exeter, which lacks a municipal police department.

The bill, whose primary sponsor is Rep. Daniel P. McKiernan (D-Dist. 7, Providence), passed both chambers and is now headed for the governor’s office. It is named for the victim who perished in a shooting in Westerly last year where a resident purchased a gun from a firearms dealer in Richmond. Although Richmond Police conducted background checks, they were not aware that the buyer had a history with Westerly Police, including threats to buy a gun to kill himself and his estranged wife, which led to a stay at Butler Hospital. In addition to killing Cardinal, who was the manager of the affordable housing complex where the gunman lived, the shooter wounded another manager and a resident before fatally shooting himself.

“This tragic event in our state exposed a serious weakness in our background check requirements, and the catastrophic results that can occur when a person with a history of violent threats is able to purchase firearms. This is a step in the right direction toward protecting Rhode Islanders from gun violence,” said Representative Caldwell.

Representative Caldwell also cosponsored legislation (2020-H 7541Aaa) to repeal archaic and inequitable state laws regarding parentage and replace them with a uniform act that provides procedures for establishing parentage, genetic testing, surrogacy agreements and assisted reproduction. That bill, primarily sponsored by Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee (D-Dist. 33, South Kingstown, Narragansett), also passed the General Assembly yesterday and is headed to the governor.

The legislation will assist families of many kinds in gaining legal recognition.

“The Parentage Act remedies an archaic law that puts people through emotional and financial burdens during what should be the happiest times of their lives — starting their families. I got my start in politics working on LGBTQ+ issues, and there is always more progress to be made. This bill truly will help families and is an important step in Rhode Island becoming a more equitable state,” said Representative Caldwell.

Additionally, Representative Caldwell cosponsored legislation (2020-H 7330) introduced by Rep. William W. O’Brien (D-Dist. 54, North Providence) to terminate all parental rights of convicted rapists when a child is born from the assault. Twenty-eight other states in the country have similar laws. That legislation passed the House yesterday and will be forwarded to the Senate.

For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-1923