Orlando massacre renews calls for gun control in RI

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The mass shooting in Orlando has renewed calls for gun control in Rhode Island as several pieces of legislation have stalled in the General Assembly.

Gov. Gina Raimondo and Rhode Island State Police Col. Steven O’Donnell are continuing their push for stricter gun measures, while House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello says that’s not the answer.

Both Massachusetts and Connecticut have barred the sale of the type of assault weapon used by the gunman in Orlando, but Rhode Island has not.

“I’m a huge supporter of the Second Amendment, but high-capacity magazines are designed for one purpose: to kill people,” said Col. O’Donnell, who for years has supported a ban on assault weapons.

Investigators say Omar Mateen used an AR-15 to kill 49 people and injure 53 early Sunday morning at a gay nightclub. He bought the weapon legally.

O’Donnell said limiting the circulation of these weapons that can shoot a lot of rounds without reloading could spare lives.

Mass., Conn. natives among the victims of Orlando nightclub massacre »
Mass., Conn. natives among the victims of Orlando nightclub massacre »

“You may shoot and kill less,” he added. “Fifty people is…one is a travesty. Think about that. Fifty lives lost. It’s very difficult for anyone to comprehend.”

Speaker Mattiello is seen as friendly to gun owners, receiving an A+ rating from the National Rifle Association (NRA). He said he doesn’t believe stricter gun laws would prevent what happened in Orlando.

“A terrorist militant is always going to find a way to access a weapon,” said Mattiello. “Gun issue discussions are always valuable. However, not in this case.”

Bills to ban magazines that hold more than 10 rounds were introduced in both the Rhode Island House and Senate this year and both were held for further study.

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