By: Robert Davis
Following the lead of jurisdictions in eight other states, several rural Rhode Island counties are declaring themselves “Second Amendment Sanctuaries” to protect gun owners from anti-gun laws the state legislature could pass this year.
“This tells me that the locally elected officials – those closest to citizens and most accountable to voters – reject the unconstitutional gun control policies coming from politicians at the state capitol,” Ryan Flugaur, Director of Federal Affairs for the National Association for Gun Rights, told Gunpowder Magazine. “They recognize there’s a groundswell of support for the Second Amendment and understand it’s a waste of time and public safety resources to target the rights of law-abiding citizens.”
Rhode Island’s state legislature discussed nearly 120 bills related to firearms during the 2019 session, many of which restricted gun rights in the state.
The Providence Journal reported on 15 bills the House Judiciary Committee heard earlier this year:
H 5021: Criminalizes possession of a firearm by a minor, except when the minor is engaged in certain activities and when accompanied by a parent, guardian, or qualified adult.
H 5022: Makes it unlawful for any person to carry a rifle or shotgun in any vehicle or conveyance or on or about their person whether visible or concealed subject to certain exceptions.
H 5332: Prohibits schools from offering employment incentives or bonuses to teachers on the condition that the teacher either is or becomes licensed to carry a weapon.
H 5497: Permits the open and concealed carry of weapons by any person in the act of evacuating the area pursuant to an order of the governor or local authority.
H 5703: Defines the term “ghost gun” and bans the manufacture, sale purchase or possession of a machine gun, a ghost gun or an undetectable firearm.
H 5723: Amends the definition of firearms to include taser. Permits any person over the age of eighteen (18) to possess a stun gun. Enacts the review and appeal process of applying for a license to carry with the licensing authority or attorney general.
H 5728: Increases the age from 18 to 21 years for lawful possession, sale, or transfer of firearms or ammunition. Full-time law enforcement, fire marshals and members of U.S. military would be exempt from these prohibitions.
H 5739: Prohibits sale/possession of a feeding device holding more than 10 ammunition rounds punishable by up to $5,000 fine or up to 5 years imprisonment with law enforcement/military personnel exceptions.
H 5740: Requires firearms to be stored securely when not in use and enhances penalties for failure to store firearms in a secure manner.
H 5741: Bans possession, sale and transfer of assault weapons which are not property registered.
H 5752: Enhances penalties for failure to report lost or stolen firearms to the police department, and specifies penalties for making a false report of lost or stolen firearms.
H 5754: Includes the chief inspector and inspector as those exempt from carrying a firearm without a permit and would define them as peace officers.
H 5762: Prohibits firearms possession within 300 feet of school grounds except for peace officers, retired law enforcement officers, persons providing school security, firearms on private property and unloaded firearms in containers or locked car racks.
H 5786: Prohibits the manufacturing, importation, sale, shipment, delivery, possession, or transfer of any firearm that is undetectable by metal detectors commonly used at airports and public buildings including 3D printed firearms as defined herein.
In 2018, the state passed its Extreme Risk Protection Order bill, otherwise known as a red flag gun confiscation law. The law allows petitioners to ask a Superior Court in their district to take away someone’s weapons if they believe that person is a danger to themselves or the community. The petitioner does not have to pay a filing fee for the request and does not face any criminal penalties for over-representing the danger the firearm owner poses.
Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo also proposed bills that would restrict magazine sizes near schools and ban certain popular firearms.
“For many people, sanctuary resolutions are one of the few ways they can fight back against these unconstitutional red flag laws,” Flugaur said. “But meaningless resolutions without an enforcement mechanism are just an empty promise.”
Sheriffs in Burrillville, Hopkinton, Glocester, Richmond, Foster, and West Greenwich Counties have all said they do not support their governor’s anti-gun agenda.
For Democrats in the state legislature, losing support among rural voters hardly seems like an issue. In the 2018 primaries, Democrats won districts concentrated among the state’s more urban areas, while Republicans won the rural counties.
If this trend continues, however, it could spell the end of a Democratic reign in Rhode Island.
“Ignoring gun rights supporters and local officials who’re telling them not to vote for gun control could have serious consequences beginning in the 2020 primary season,” Flugaur said.
Robert Davis is a general assignment reporter for Gunpowder Magazine. You can contact him at [email protected].