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What to Know on Gun Safety as 2020 Legislative Session Begins in Rhode Island

January 8, 2020

Rhode Island’s legislative session started yesterday, and state lawmakers have the opportunity to pass common-sense gun safety bills this year. Here’s what to know on two policies could prevent future gun violence in the state if enacted: 

Ghost Guns and 3D-Printed Guns

  • Yesterday, Speaker of the Rhode Island House of Representatives Nicholas Mattiello and President of the Rhode Island Senate Dominick Ruggerio announced they will prioritize legislation regulating ghost guns and 3D-printed guns in 2020’s legislative session.
  • Ghost guns are DIY firearms, often built using unfinished receivers and parts and kits that – as seen in a New York Times investigation – can be acquired without a background check. These firearm building blocks can be built into fully-functioning, unserialized guns at home with minimal effort. Unfinished receivers and rapidly advancing 3D-printing technology enable criminals and others who cannot legally purchase firearms to evade background check laws and easily produce their own deadly firearms. This technology can also produce all-plastic firearms that are invisible to metal detectors.
  • Ghost guns and 3D-printed guns are also a favorite of criminals because they’re not marked with unique serial numbers, and so cannot be traced by law enforcement officers when they’re used to commit crimes. Just 7 days ago, a 54-year-old Rhode Island woman was brutally murdered using a 3D-printed gun. According to a recent report, the ATF estimates that 30% of the guns recovered in California have no serial number and are therefore untraceable. In Philadelphia, the ATF recovered 42 ghost guns from June 2018 to June 2019. Reports also show that ghost guns are becoming more common across New York.
  • States are taking action. New Jersey, California and Connecticut have enacted laws to regulate ghost guns, and just this past month, both Pennsylvania and New York officials announced plans to do the same. In December, Everytown for Gun Safety called on the ATF to clarify that unfinished frames and receivers should be regulated like firearms in a petition for rulemaking.
  • Volunteers with the Rhode Island chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America supported this critical legislation last session, when it passed the Senate, and will support it again in 2020.

High-Capacity Magazines

  • High-capacity magazines, ammunition feeding devices that are capable of holding more than 10 rounds, allow a shooter to fire more rounds without pausing to reload. The more rounds a shooter can fire consecutively, the more gunshot wounds they can inflict during an attack.
  • A recent analysis of 10 years of mass shootings in the US shows that at least 40 mass shootings involved high-capacity magazines, which resulted in 399 people killed and 699 people wounded. Of those 40 mass shootings that involved high-capacity magazines, nearly three-fourths occurred in public places. As a whole, the mass shootings we know involved the use of high-capacity magazines resulted in nearly five times as many people shot on average as those that did not.

The evidence is clear: common-sense gun safety laws can help stop tragic shootings in Rhode Island. 

If you have any questions about this legislation or would like to speak with a volunteer with the Rhode Island chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America on 2020 legislative priorities, please do not hesitate to reach out. 

If you're a member of the media, please send inquiries to [email protected]