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Rhode Island Moms Demand Action, Students Demand Action Call on Lawmakers to Prioritize Gun Safety Legislation and Support Violence Intervention Work After Shooting in Providence

May 14, 2021

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — 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 calling on lawmakers to prioritize gun safety legislation and support for violence intervention work after eight people were shot and wounded in a shooting in Providence. According to Providence Police Chief Col. Hugh T. Clements Jr., no other shooting in the city’s history has injured as many people.

“Our hearts are broken for everyone impacted by this tragic shooting,” said Diana Garlington, a volunteer with the Rhode Island chapter of Moms Demand Action. “This underscores the urgent need for immediate action to combat gun violence. Our lawmakers have the opportunity to pass commonsense laws that will make our communities safer and to fund lifesaving programs that stop gun violence before it happens, and it’s time for them to take that opportunity.”

Lawmakers in the Rhode Island House and Senate should take immediate action to prevent gun violence by passing the Attorney General’s package of key gun safety legislation, including bills that would stem the flow of illegal guns into Rhode Island communities by prohibiting straw purchasing and tracking bulk firearm purchases, limit magazine capacity to 10 rounds, regulate assault weapons, keep hidden, loaded guns out of schools, prohibit open carry of loaded rifles and shotguns, and require the secure storage of firearms. This package is supported by all of Rhode Island’s General Officers and more than half of the legislators in each chamber, and polls show broad support from Rhode Islanders as well. 

To address the rise in gun violence experienced in Rhode Island during the past year and a half, lawmakers should increase financial support for violence intervention work to disrupt gun violence before it happens. Organizations such as the Nonviolence Institute conduct crucial violence intervention work by employing street outreach workers to support young people in making nonviolent choices, and to mediate potential conflicts that could lead to violence. 

To assist states and localities, President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan (ARP) into law on March 12, 2021, authorizing $350 billion in funding for state and local governments to counter the economic toll of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rhode Island will receive $1.78 billion in total, including $1.1 billion for the State and around $166 million for the city of Providence. Guidance recently released by the U.S. Treasury specifically authorizes Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds established under the ARP to be used for community violence intervention programs. This is because increased gun violence and the expanded work of violence intervention programs can be traced to the impact of the pandemic, and violence intervention professionals are performing essential frontline work to protect the public and interrupt gun violence.


  • H 5554, sponsored by Rep. Caldwell, and S 0414, sponsored by Senator Gayle Goldin (SD 3), would prohibit high-capacity magazines. Prohibiting high-capacity magazines can help save lives in Rhode Island. High-capacity magazines (“HCMs”) are commonplace in mass shooting incidents and make instances of everyday gun violence exceptionally deadly. By increasing the number of bullets a shooter can fire without reloading, HCMs make firearms more lethal. Prohibitions on HCMs can help prevent devastating mass shootings and lessen the lethality of other acts of gun violence.
  • H 5386, sponsored by Rep. Jason Knight (HD 67), and S 0416, sponsored by Senator Miller, would combat gun trafficking and straw purchases by identifying and holding accountable those who fuel the marketplace of illegal guns by purchasing guns on behalf of other people, making bulk purchases tied to subsequent illegal sales, and purchasing guns for people they know or should know are prohibited from possessing them.
  • H 5556, sponsored by Rep. Justine Caldwell (HD 30), and S 0415, sponsored by Senator Josh Miller (SD 28), would restrict the possession and use of assault weapons. Assault weapons are commonplace in mass shootings and make shootings more lethal. Research shows that restrictions on assault weapons can help prevent mass shooting injuries and fatalities as well as reduce the devastation of daily gun violence. 
  • H 5555, sponsored by Rep. Katherine Kazarian (HD 63), and S 0073, sponsored by Senate President Dominick Ruggerio (SD 4), would close a dangerous gap in current Rhode Island law which allows anyone who has a valid concealed carry permit to carry hidden, loaded guns in K-12 schools.
  • H 5969, sponsored by Rep. Leonela Felix (HD 61), and S 0417, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Michael McCaffrey (SD 29), would help keep public spaces in Rhode Island safe by prohibiting the open carry of loaded rifles and shotguns in public. Open carry is a threat to public safety and is often used by armed extremists and members of hate groups as a show of intimidation.

 Nearly 200 people are shot and killed or wounded in Rhode Island every year. Gun violence costs Rhode Island $299.3 million each year, of which $14.6 million is paid  by taxpayers. Read more about gun violence in Rhode Island here.

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