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Despite Overwhelming Support, Lawmakers Fail To Pass Bills to Require Secure Storage of Firearms and Prohibit Assault Weapons

June 16, 2023

Recent Polling Showed that Likely Democratic Primary Voters Overwhelmingly Support Gun Safety Bills and Are More Likely To Vote For Candidates Who Support Strengthening Rhode Island’s Gun Violence Prevention Laws

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Today, The Rhode Island chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots networks, released the following statement after the Rhode Island General Assembly adjourned its 2023 session without passing H 5434 / S 321 — legislation which would require secure storage of all firearms; and H 5300 / S 379 — legislation which would prohibit the manufacture, sale and possession of assault weapons in the state while providing current owners a pathway to keep them.

“We are disappointed that the Rhode Island General Assembly decided not to build on the progress they have made on gun safety in recent years by passing these two life-saving gun safety bills that have overwhelming support from the people who elected so many of our lawmakers into office,” said Diana Garlington, a volunteer with the Rhode Island chapter of Moms Demand Action, and gun violence survivor whose daughter Essence T. Christal was shot and killed in a drive-by shooting on November 25, 2011. “Constituents made it clear they want legislation that would require responsible gun ownership with secure firearm storage and to keep weapons made for war from flooding our streets. We know what is at stake, and we’ll keep coming back until these bills become law.”  

Recent polling showed that an overwhelming majority of likely Democratic Primary voters statewide support both an assault weapons ban (84.6% of Democrats and 66% of independents) and requiring secure storage of firearms (94.2% of Democrats and 90.5% of independents).  Rhode Island has an all-Democratic leadership team in the legislature and a Democratic supermajority. The poll reaffirms overwhelming support for common-sense gun safety policies – including the laws passed by the Rhode Island General Assembly in recent years, as well as the gun safety bills proposed this year. It also clearly shows that they are much more likely to support a candidate who supports strengthening Rhode Island’s gun violence prevention laws. 

More than thirty organizations signed onto a letter urging House & Senate leadership to bring these bills to the floor for a vote, and the bills are supported by all five Rhode Island General’s Officers: Rhode Island Governor Daniel McKee, Lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos, Attorney General Peter Neronha, Secretary of State Gregg Amore, and Treasurer James Diossa. Rhode Island Moms Demand Action volunteers have been on the front lines working to pass common-sense gun safety laws and look forward to working with the legislature next year to pass legislation that will require firearms to be securely stored and prohibit assault weapons

In an average year in Rhode Island, 51 people die by guns and 165 people are wounded. 60 percent of gun deaths are by firearm suicide. Gun violence costs Rhode Island $752.1 million each year, of which $15.8 million is paid by taxpayers. More information on gun violence in Rhode Island is available here.

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