Supporters for ‘Protect Rhode Island Families Act’ gather at Statehouse

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Activists and supporters gathered at the Statehouse on Wednesday to voice support for The Protect Rhode Island Families Act as a part of their annual Advocacy Day.

The bill would keep guns out of the hands of convicted domestic violence abusers, the Everytown for Gun Safety organization said.

Supporters continued to say that it will prohibit those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence crimes and those under protective orders from legally obtaining a gun. Secondly, it would force all domestic abusers to turn in the guns they currently own.

Reverend Gene Dyszlewski was at Statehouse in support of the bill representing the Religious Coalition for a Violence-Free Rhode Island.

“The removal of a gun reduces a threat and begins to establish a sense of safety,” explained Dyszlewski. “It’s only then, that healing can begin.”

According to Everytown for Gun Safety, domestic violence killed 54 Rhode Islanders between 2006 and 2015. Further, data shows that more victims were killed by a firearm than by any other means.

For Jennifer Boylan with the RI Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, the standing law is not enough.

“The fact [is] that our law in Rhode Island is so deficient with respect to failing victims of domestic abuse,” Boylan said. “We can do better. And we really should. People’s lives are at stake.”

Opponents of the bill claim it would weaken existing gun laws.

At the Statehouse, supporters tried to clarify the difference.

“We are not trying to take guns away from people who are qualified to have them,” said Boylan. “We are trying to take guns away from people who should not have them,”

She continued, “And if you’re a domestic violence abuser, you should not have them.”