PROVIDENCE, RI – Elected officials joined more than 100 supporters of the Rhode Island chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, part of Everytown for Gun Safety, at a State House press conference during their lobby day today in support of legislation to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. If enacted, SB 2767–introduced by Senator Harold Metts—and its companion, HB 7575–sponsored by Representative Teresa Tanzi–would prohibit gun possession by people convicted of domestic abuse crimes and people subject to domestic abuse protective orders. The legislation would also require prohibited domestic abusers to turn in their guns to law enforcement or to gun dealers upon becoming prohibited.
“Let me be clear: Rhode Island is not doing enough to keep guns out of the hands of those who should not have them, and specifically I am talking about domestic abusers. Domestic violence in America is largely a problem of gun violence,” said Jennifer Smith Boylan, a volunteer with the Rhode Island chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “In an average month, 51 women in the United States are shot to death by an intimate partner. And when a gun is present in a domestic violence situation, it makes it five times more likely that a woman will be murdered.”
“Both the House and the Senate have the opportunity to recognize that victims’ lives matter,” said Laura Hastings, a survivor of domestic violence and another volunteer with Moms Demand Action. “They have the opportunity to recognize their duty to protect those who are in danger. They have the opportunity to pass H 7575 and S 2767 and bring Rhode Island law in line with federal law.”
Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza, a member of of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and Rhode Island Commissioner of Public Safety Steven Pare also spoke at the press conference. Late last year, Governor Gina Raimondo convened a task force consisting of state legislators, advocates, and members of law enforcement to explore possible solutions to domestic abuse in the state. The task force recommended passage of the legislation.
- Rhode Island courts rarely order abusers subject to final protective orders to turn in their guns. A 2015 report from Everytown for Gun Safety that reviewed more than 1,600 final protective orders found that courts required abusers to turn in their firearms in just five percent of cases.
- Even when the records indicated a firearm threat, courts ordered abusers to turn in their guns in less than 13 percent of cases. As a result, 325 abusers who appeared to have access to firearms were not ordered to turn them in.
- Twenty-six states and Washington D.C. prohibit people convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors from having guns.
- Twenty-five states and Washington D.C. prohibit people subject to domestic violence restraining orders from having guns.
- According to 2010 research by professors at Johns Hopkins University and Michigan State University, states that restrict access to firearms by those subject to domestic violence restraining orders see a 25 percent reduction in intimate partner gun homicides.