PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Investigators say the four firearms used in Wednesday’s tragic shooting in San Bernardino, California were all purchased legally in the United States several years ago – but it is still unclear how they wound up in the hands of the shooters.
As the investigation unfolds, it has reignited the debate over gun control both nationally and locally.
Four months after 20 children and 6 adults were murdered during a rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary, a package of nine laws was introduced at the Rhode Island State House.
If those laws were put into place, assault rifles and high capacity magazines would have been banned and penalties for carrying stolen firearms would have been stiffer.
But only one made it on the books. That law, which was passed this year, allows some mental health records to be sent to the National Instant Criminal Background Check database. The law is designed to keep firearms away from anyone who has been involuntarily committed in court for mental health treatment.
Target 12 spoke with a number of lawmakers who offered sharp contrasts about whether or not the San Bernardino mass shooting should provoke a new wave of gun control laws.
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State Rep. Robert Nardolillo said that while the rash of gun violence is tragic, he does not believe a suspect can be stopped by a new law.
“They’re not following the existing laws,” he said. “So putting in more legislation, more gun laws. You’re hurting the average individual who wants to protect themselves and their family.”
In Washington, Rep. David Cicilline pointed out that Wednesday’s shooting was the 355th mass shooting this year. He said he hopes the tragedy will provoke new gun laws.
“Legislation to prohibit certain high capacity assault weapons is a bill I intend to introduce,” the Congressman said. “But there are a number of different proposals. Common sense gun safety legislation.”
Nardolillo argues that it makes more sense to enforce existing laws than to create new ones.
“Are we putting in stronger laws? And what is going to happen if we do that. Or are the existing laws that are there strong enough,” questioned Nardolillo.
Cicilline disagreed, saying now is the time to take action.
“The time for silence is over. It’s time for action and I think people expect Congress to do something about this,” he said.
While lawmakers against gun control say the legislation wouldn’t stop mass shootings, lawmakers on the other side say the stricter gun control laws would make the country safe.