Lawmakers introduce assault weapons ban legislation

By Tessa Roy, WPRO News

In the wake of the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, activists, legislators, students, and more packed the Rhode Island State House rotunda on Tuesday to rally in support of a bill that would ban assault weapons.

The bill, according to its text, would “restrict the possession and sale of semiautomatic weapons, limit ammunition magazines to 10 or less rounds,” and make provisions on “grandfathered” or current ownership of these weapons with exceptions for law enforcement. It also includes an extensive list of weapons that would be subject to the restrictions if the bill became law.

The bill’s primary House sponsor, Representative Jason Knight, said his goal with this bill wasn’t to restrict a law-abiding person’s right to protect themselves “with a pistol or a shotgun.”

“Those will remain legal. But we have a public health crisis in gun violence these days,” he said.

Primary Senate sponsor Senator Josh Miller said the assault weapons ban bill wouldn’t be the last legislative action on gun control in Rhode Island.

“It will not stop at red flag, it will not stop at bump stocks, it will not stop at magazines, it will not stop at assault weapons. It will stop when we hear from our high school students and our teachers that they feel safe,” Miller said.

A few high school students like Adah Bryan were there to support the bill, saying they were tired of seeing news of gun violence, especially in schools.

“When I say I want stronger gun control, I’m not a kid who doesn’t have enough information. I’m a young adult who has seen these things over and over again,” she said. “Marjory Stoneman Douglas was just the last.”

Prior to the bill’s introduction in the legislature, Miller and Knight said 10 cosponsors had signed on in the Senate and 18 in the House. They anticipated many more would follow as they brought it to the floors.