PROVIDENCE—In the wake of the Las Vegas shooting earlier this month in which 58 people were killed and over 500 injured by gunman Stephen Paddock, legislatures across the country have responded by introducing bills on gun control. Rep. Robert Craven (Dist. 32—North Kingstown), will introduce legislation in January which would ban the purchase of bump stocks in Rhode Island.
Paddock used bump stocks, or attachments which allow semi-automatic weapons to shoot at a higher rate of fire, as he shot hundreds of concert-goers from his 32nd floor room at the Mandalay Bay Hotel. He was found dead in his hotel room by police after shooting himself.
“It’s important to ban these devices because [they] have no other purpose other than to turn a semi-automatic AR-15 into an automatic weapon,” said Craven Tuesday. “Currently, there is some ambiguity to whether or not applying a bump stock to one’s weapon is legal in Rhode Island, but it is still legal to purchase one.”
“This bill will end that practice, making the sale and possession of bump stocks, even if they are not affixed to a weapon, illegal and punishable by the full extent of the law.”
Any modification to make a weapon fully-automatic is illegal in Rhode Island.
Rhode Island leaders already passed legislation that prohibits anyone convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence offense, or those subject to protective orders, from owning a firearm. The House and Senate bills will be signed into law by Gov. Gina Raimondo this coming Monday.
Craven ‘floor-managed’ H 5510, which was sponsored by Rep. Teresa Tanzi (Dist. 34—South Kingstown, Narragansett).
“For me, it really comes down to the individual whom this would protect,” said Tanzi in July. “During the years that I spent working at the Domestic Violence Resource Center in Wakefield, I heard stories of women who were in abusive relationships. I saw and began to understand really what it takes to leave an abuser and how people endure this for years before they are able to leave. The relationships are complicated, there’s so much of a struggle for power and control, and that’s what the abuser feeds on.”
“For the person being abused, to be able to get to the point where they are ready to leave, that is the single most dangerous time for them,” she continued. “Their likelihood of being murdered is the highest right then at that time. For me, [the legislation] is about protecting those individuals.”
Craven added Tuesday that a future avenue to curb gun violence which could be researched would be to regulate the amount of ammunition an individual can possess, outside of that used and stored at a gun range.
U.S. Senator Jack Reed has co-sponsored legislation with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) at the federal level which would ban the sale, transfer, importation, manufacture and possession of bump stocks and similar accessories.
“There is widespread consensus that the sale of automatic machine guns – weapons of war designed to cause mass casualties – need to be well-regulated,” said Reed in a statement earlier this month. “And there should be strong, bipartisan consensus to close the bump stock loophole. Congress did nothing in response to Columbine, Sandy Hook, Orlando, Virginia Tech, San Bernardino, and other mass shootings. It is sickening to stand by and just let the body counts rise and do nothing.”
“Passing the Automatic Gun Fire Prevention Act is the least we can do, and we should do it quickly.”
According to Reed’s office, semi-automatic rifles can shoot between 45 and 60 rounds per minute. A bump stock, however, can increase this rate of fire by between 400 and 800 rounds per minute.