Rhode Island's governor signed three firearms bills into law on Tuesday that included a ban on magazines holding more than 10 rounds, calling it a response to a national crisis that has “taken too many lives and torn apart too many families.”
The bills aim to reduce gun violence and prevent mass shootings like recent ones in New York and Texas. In addition to banning large-capacity gun magazines, the bills raise from 18 to 21 the state’s minimum age for buying rifles and shotguns, and prohibit loaded rifles and shotguns from being carried in public. Current state law already bars the sale or possession of handguns to people under 21.
“We knew that this was the moment to take action and lack of action was not an option, not an option for our kids or our loved ones,” Democratic Gov. Dan McKee said at a bill signing ceremony at the State House with the state lawmakers who sponsored the bills, the state's general officers and gun control advocates. Lawmakers said they were responding to residents' calls for commonsense gun reform and that the reforms are consistent with the Second Amendment.
McKee said Rhode Island will continue to take action and save lives in the aftermath of mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, no matter what happens in the U.S. Congress. In the U.S. Senate last week, Democratic and Republican senators were at odds over how to keep firearms from dangerous people as bargainers struggled to finalize details of a gun violence compromise.
Jennifer Boylan, a volunteer leader with the Rhode Island chapter of Moms Demand Action, said she's confident these bills will reduce gun violence. McKee put on a red Moms Demand Action T-shirt to sign the bills.
“The high-capacity magazine limit is a life-saving bill. It was our top priority. To get that across the finish line is just huge, and the other ones I'm very pleased about,” Boylan said. “There's always more to do, but we'll keep going.”
While applauding the bills that passed, some lawmakers and advocates have said they're disappointed that another proposal to ban assault weapons has not been scheduled for a vote and does not appear to have the same support among legislative leaders.
Some lawmakers had sought to exempt high-capacity magazines that Rhode Islanders already own from the ban, but the proposal failed. The state Republican Party said the ban will turn law-abiding citizens into criminals.
Those who already own large-capacity magazines or weapons will have 180 days to permanently alter them so they comply with the law, surrender them to police, or sell them to buyers in places where they remain legal. Law enforcement and military personnel are exempted.
McKee said while the state still has more to do to address gun violence, “progress has been made today.”