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Rhode Island Moms Demand Action, Everytown Respond To Rhode Island Family Court Improvement Of Final Order Of Protection Form

December 6, 2019

Last Month, Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund Released a Report Finding Substantial Gaps in the Family Court’s Implementation of the Protect Rhode Island Families Act

The Report Recommended the Rhode Island Family Court Remove the Firearm Surrender Checkbox on Final Order of Protection Forms 

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The Rhode Island chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, part of Everytown for Gun Safety, released the following statement in response to reports that the Rhode Island Family Court is “working to remove” checkboxes on Final Order of Protection forms, which have created confusion as to whether and when defendants in such cases must surrender any firearms.

“We applaud the Rhode Island Family Court for taking one of the most important steps recommended in our report by revising the Final Order of Protection form,” said Eric Tirschwell, Managing Director of Everytown Law, the litigation arm of Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund. “Eliminating the checkbox on this form clears up confusion — firearm surrender is mandatory with every final order, and judges should also be following up to make sure defendants are filing the required proof of surrender in every case. We’re grateful to the Family Court for taking these recommendations seriously, and taking this meaningful step that will help keep Rhode Island communities safe.”

“Checking a box shouldn’t mean the difference between life and death for those looking for protection from their armed abusers,” said Melissa Power, a volunteer with Rhode Island chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “This change is a major step forward for survivors of domestic violence and gun safety advocates. We’re glad to see the court take action because the stakes are truly high.”

Other recommendations from the report include:

  • Judges should orally explain firearms restrictions when issuing a final Order of Protection, including the fact that possession of a firearm by a person subject to a final Order of Protection is a crime under state law and that any firearms in the person’s possession must be relinquished as required by law.
  • Judges should monitor whether defendants have surrendered firearms or otherwise filed proof that they are in compliance with the law,  and impose appropriate remedies when defendants fail to do so.

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