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Bill that penalizes the open carrying of loaded rifles and shotguns in public signed into law
STATE HOUSE — Legislation introduced by Senate Majority Leader Michael J. McCaffrey (D-Dist. 29, Warwick) and Rep. Leonela “Leo” Felix (D-Dist. 61, Pawtucket) that enumerates penalties for the open carrying of loaded shotguns and rifles was signed into law today. The law, which was signed by Gov. Daniel McKee during a ceremony at the State House, is one of three intended to reduce gun violence in Rhode Island that were passed by the legislature.
The law (
) makes the definitions of “rifle” and “shotgun” consistent with federal law, and prohibit the open carry of any loaded rifle or shotgun in public. A violation is punishable by imprisonment of up to five years or a fine up to $5,000 or both.
“We must not accept violence as an unavoidable consequence of freedom. We have a responsibility to address it,” said Representative Felix. “No one should be walking around our communities with a loaded weapon. A readily available loaded gun can too swiftly turn a conflict into a lethal tragedy, ruining the lives of everyone involved with a single bad decision. Requiring that firearms be transported safely is common sense and increases safety for all.”
The provisions of the act do not apply to law enforcement or to persons legally engaged in hunting activity.
“The open carrying of loaded rifles and shotguns has been exploited in certain places to intimidate voters and protestors and to suppress free speech,” said Senator McCaffrey. “Rhode Island already bans the open carrying of handguns without a permit. This would close a loophole in the law that allows the open carrying of long guns along any public highway, road, lane, or trail within this state.”
The definitions are consistent with federal law, which defines a rifle as “a weapon designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder and designed or redesigned and made or remade to use the energy of the explosive in a fixed cartridge to fire only a single projectile through a rifled bore for each single pull of the trigger, and shall include any such weapon which may be readily restored to fire a fixed cartridge.”
The same federal code defines a shotgun as “a weapon designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder and designed or redesigned and made or remade to use the energy of the explosive in a fixed shotgun shell to fire through a smooth bore either a number of projectiles (ball shot) or a single projectile for each pull of the trigger, and shall include any such weapon which may be readily restored to fire a fixed shotgun shell.”
The other two laws signed by the governor ban large-capacity gun magazines and raises the legal age to purchase firearms or ammunition from 18 to 21.
“Here in Rhode Island, we’re taking meaningful action to address the scourge of gun violence and keep our residents safe,” said Governor McKee. “As Governor, I am proud to sign a legislative package that will ban high-capacity magazines, raise the legal age to purchase firearms to 21 and prohibit the open carry of a rifle or shotgun in public – these measures can help saves lives. My deepest thanks go out to the legislative sponsors and the thousands of advocates who stepped up and got the work done.”
“I am proud of our state leaders and advocacy community for demanding and accomplishing meaningful action to help mitigate the plague of gun violence,” said Lt. Governor Sabina Matos. “The only way we can prevent another tragedy is through bold policies that prioritize lives and public safety. I want to thank all of the bill sponsors, the Senate President, the Speaker, and Governor for their steadfast commitment to passing and signing comprehensive gun safety legislation this year.”
“Today’s bill signing is living proof of way advocacy matters. As a mom, I am grateful to all the moms and their allies whose tireless efforts to address gun violence made the passage of the critical, common-sense gun reforms possible. Thank you to the House, Senate, and governor for working to swiftly and decisively enact these public safety protections into law, Additionally, thanks to Attorney General Peter Neronha for spearheading this effort from the executive branch. Today we make Rhode Island a safer place to live. And while there is still work to be done in addressing gun violence in our state and country, at least tonight I can talk with my kids about why civic engagement matters,” said Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea,
“Common-sense gun control measures are necessary to save lives and help prevent mass shootings from occurring in Rhode Island,” said General Treasurer Seth Magaziner. “I am proud to have worked with advocates around the state for years to support these and other measures and thankful to the members of the General Assembly for passing these laws to protect Rhode Island’s communities from the devastating epidemic of gun violence.”
The Rhode Island Police Chiefs’ Association (RIPCA) supports all efforts to save lives from gun violence, and the signing of these three bills will enhance existing gun laws in a manner that properly balances individual constitutional rights and public safety,” said Narragansett Police Chief Sean Corrigan, President of the Rhode Island Police Chiefs Association.
“Following the horrific mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, in addition to the countless communities torn apart by gun violence, Rhode Island lawmakers have taken decisive action that will save lives,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “Our grassroots army of volunteers have fought for years to help make this progress possible. We’re so grateful for the leadership of Governor McKee, Speaker Shekarchi, Senate President Ruggerio, Attorney General Neronha and all the gun sense champions in the Rhode Island legislature for passing these lifesaving laws.”
“It has taken 10 years of hard work and collaboration to build the support needed for these three lifesaving bills to pass. Together, with dozens of campaign partners, thousands of advocates, the majority of the General Assembly and all of our general officers, we have committed to creating policy that saves lives and protects our families, children and communities from further gun violence. Collectively, we have unprecedented power and momentum to continue to strengthen Rhode Island’s gun violence prevention laws. To anything less is not an option,” said Sydney Montstream-Quas, Board Chair, RI Coalition Against Gun Violence.
For more information, contact:
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
Lt. Governor's Office
Secretary of State
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