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Rhode Island Passes Bill Requiring Firearm Storage

The Rhode Island Senate approved a bill Tuesday that would require all firearms, when not being used by the owner or another authorized user, to be stored in a locked container or equipped with a tamper-resistant mechanical lock, the Associated Press reports. Under the bill, the unsafe storage of a firearm would be considered a civil offense that could be punished by a fine of up to $250 for a first offense and $1,000 for a second. Any subsequent violation would be punishable by up to six months in prison and a fine of up to $500. The measure passed by a 28-7 vote. The bill’s sponsor, Democratic Sen. Pamela Lauria, said responsible gun owners already take precautions, but those steps should be a requirement, not an option.

“Unsecured guns have harmed countless children as well as family members or friends who have accessed them for the purpose of suicide or crime. When a gun isn’t under the owner’s control, it’s not safe anywhere unless it’s secured,” Lauria said. An analysis released last year by the Pew Research Center found that the number of children and teens killed by gunfire in the United States increased 50% between 2019 and 2021, based on mortality statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Rhode Island currently can punish those who leave a firearm where a child can get it with a fine of $1,000 if it is loaded and the child causes injury with it. The bill would expand the law so it applies whether or not the gun is loaded and covers not just children but adults who are prohibited by law from possessing firearms. Violators could be charged with second-degree criminal firearm storage and face up to a year in prison and up to $1,000 in fines, according to supporters.


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