McKee renews calls for gun safety after Texas school shooting

PROVIDENCE, RI (WPRI) – Governor Dan McKee has urged state lawmakers to take immediate action on gun safety legislation in the wake of the deadliest school shooting since 2012.

“Too many lives have been tragically cut short by senseless gun violence across our country – we cannot allow this to continue,” McKee said. “We need action now, here in Rhode Island and in our nation’s capital.”

McKee is asking lawmakers to send ‘common sense’ gun safety bills to his office, adding that if they don’t pass them this legislative session, there’s a good chance they won’t. never.

“If it doesn’t happen this year, I don’t see it happening,” he said. “This is the year to do it.”

There are currently five gun safety bills introduced this legislative session, though none of them have made it to McKee’s desk.

One of those bills would raise the legal purchase age for firearms from 18 to 21, while another would make it a crime to store an unlocked firearm.

Other bills on the table include banning the use of “bulk stores” and further restricting the sale and possession of assault weapons.

During the signing of a bill Wednesday legalizing the use of recreational marijuana statewide, Sen. Josh Miller said he was “going out of script” to call on his colleagues to embrace the bills. of law.

“Stop the prayers,” Miller said. “It’s urgent, it’s overdue…now is the time for these gun safety bills.”

The National Education Association Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals, the state’s largest teachers’ unions, echoed Miller’s call to action.

“We are tired of trying to find new words to describe the anguish every time students and teachers are slaughtered – new words that say the same thing: enough is enough,” the organizations said in a statement. . “It is high time to act. Do something. Do anything.”

In response, Senate Speaker Dominick Ruggerio said additional gun safety legislation was discussed earlier this session and is being reviewed by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

House Speaker Joseph Shekarchi said “legislation is pending this session and is being considered.”

“Our hearts are broken for all students, parents, teachers and families at Uvalde,” he said in a statement. “What happened at Robb Elementary School is beyond belief. No child should have to fear for their life, especially at school.

When asked why the bills were still being considered, an RI House spokesperson explained that the sponsor “requested that the bills not be heard in committee this year and that the 2021 testimonies would stand,” adding that the committee was still reviewing them.

McKee signed into law two gun safety bills last year, including the Harold M. Metts School Safety Act, which prohibits anyone from carrying a gun on school property. He also signed a statewide ban on “straw buying,” which is when someone buys a gun for someone who can’t legally buy one for themselves- same.

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