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After Three-Year Fight, Life-Saving Domestic Violence Legislation Prevails in Rhode Island (And Across the Country)

Last week, Rhode Island legislators stood up for women and families after a three-year fight with the gun lobby, and passed “The Protect Rhode Island Families Act.” The bill is now on Governor Raimondo’s desk, and she has vowed to sign it.

Under current Rhode Island law, abusers convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence crimes and abusers who are subject to final restraining orders are not always prohibited from possessing guns nor are they always required to surrender their firearms once they become prohibited. The “Protect Rhode Island Families Act” will close these loopholes by requiring that these abusers are prohibited and required to turn in their guns once they become prohibited from possessing them.

Since this bill was introduced three years ago, the Rhode Island chapter of Moms Demand Action has been working tirelessly by testifying at numerous hearings, coordinating large digital campaigns, writing countless letters and op-eds for newspapers throughout the state and relentlessly lobbying state legislators.

The ability of Rhode Island lawmakers to pass life-saving legislation is far from an aberration.

Since the start of 2013, a total of 24 red, blue and purple states have strengthened existing laws or passed new ones to help keep guns away from domestic abusers. In 2017 alone, seven states have already enacted this type of legislation, almost all of them signed by Republican governors: Louisiana, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, North Dakota, Tennessee and Utah.

This trend is not an accident. Gun violence prevention advocates and domestic violence prevention advocates have worked hand in hand with lawmakers of both parties to help save women’s lives.

Research has repeatedly shown that there is a lethal link between domestic violence and gun violence in America. The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation makes it five times more likely a woman will die.

A new study adds to a growing body of research on the impact of domestic violence firearm relinquishment laws. Researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health found that state laws requiring firearm relinquishment for people under domestic violence protection orders are associated with a 14 percent lower rate of intimate partner firearm homicide.

Rhode Island is just the latest example of how we can find common ground on this vitally important issue to public safety. Keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers is a crucial step in keeping our communities safe. If you have any questions about the Rhode Island legislation or the bipartisan trend of passing laws to keep guns out f the hands of domestic abusers, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

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