gun safety

Protect Portsmouth kids at Town Council Monday night [Update]

stopsign.jpgMonday night, May 22, the Portsmouth Town Council will hear two agenda items that bear on the safety of children in town: speeding in Island Park and concealed weapons in our schools.

A group of Island Park residents have raised concerns about speeding on Cottage Avenue in Island Park, and have circulated a petition with 30 signatures (including Portsmouth Police Chief Thomas Lee) requesting the Council implement traffic slowing measures and increased enforcement.

"We have 16 children that live on our street," says an e-mail to the Council from organizer Jennifer Weiffenbach, "The posted speed limit is 15 miles per hour. Yet we regularly see divers going both directions from 25 to 45 mph and higher." The petition asks the Council to consider speed bumps or stop signs at the (currently uncontrolled) cross streets.

Also on the agenda is a request for a resolution in support of the bills currently before the General Assembly that would close the concealed-carry loophole on school grounds. (H5345/S0187)

This legislation — which was supported by the Portsmouth School Committee in March — clarifies a conflict in state law. Although there is currently a "no guns in schools" law on the books (RIGL 11-47-60) there is language in the state's concealed carry provision which appears to contradict this exclusion (RIGL 11-47-11).

Monday night would be a good time to show up at the Council for our kids.

Update: Both measures were approved by the Council. Councilors heard a presentation from three Island Park kids, questioned the PD and DPW, and decided on stop signs at Walnut and Chestnut streets. The resolution supporting the NGIS bills was passed after a statement from School Committee chair Terri Cortvriend and a few words from this reporter.

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02871, Localblogging, Town Council, gun safety

RI senate bills filed to protect domestic violence victims from armed abusers

With a report having been issued today from the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence on the 54 domestic homicide victims in Rhode Island between 2006 and 2015, Senators Cynthia A. Coyne and Maryellen Goodwin will submit a package of legislation this afternoon to ban abusers from possession of a firearm. Both senators have been involved in working to protect victims of domestic violence.

On average, 760 Americans were killed each year between 2006 and 2014 by spouses, ex-spouses or dating partners, according to the Associated Press. In Rhode Island, the Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) report notes, 19 of the 54 domestic homicide victims were killed with a firearm.

About half of the perpetrators who committed intimate partner homicides had a previous domestic violence history, and 70 percent of those perpetrators had previously been convicted or pleaded nolo contendere in at least one domestic violence case.

The legislation being introduced in the Senate today seeks to protect potential victims by keeping firearms out of the hands of domestic abusers.

One bill, sponsored by Sen. Coyne, prohibits persons convicted of felony domestic abuse, and those who plead nolo contendere to a felony domestic abuse charge, from purchasing, owning, carrying, transporting, possessing or controlling any firearm. Convicted abusers would be required to surrender their firearms within 24 hours to the state police, local police, or a federally licensed firearms dealer.

Another bill, sponsored by Sen. Goodwin, would allow a court to order defendants not to possess firearms while subject to a restraining order related to a complaint of domestic abuse, after they have had an opportunity to be heard at a court hearing. The bill also provides the mechanism for return of surrendered firearms upon expiration of a restraining order.

A third bill, sponsored by Sen. Coyne and more technical in nature, would place a similar prohibition against weapons possession upon individuals subject to a domestic abuse or domestic assault restraining order while serving a sentence under community confinement.

“During two decades working in law enforcement, I saw the terrible toll that domestic violence takes on its victims, who are disproportionately women,” said Sen. Coyne (D-32, Barrington, Bristol, East Providence), a retired state trooper. “The Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that, when a firearm is present in a domestic violence situation, the risk of homicide for women is five times greater than if there were no firearm present. By removing guns from potentially violent situations, the bills we are introducing today will help save lives.”

Sen. Goodwin (D-1, Providence), who sponsored the original legislation, enacted in 2005, enabling judges to remove firearms from abusers, said, “Far too many domestic violence survivors live lives that are dictated by fear – fear that their abuser will strike again and maybe this time it will end in death. The research presented today indicates that the victim’s perception of future danger is the single best predictor of assault. That is one reason why removing firearms from those subject to restraining orders is so important. This legislation will help domestic violence survivors put some of that fear behind them and actually live.”

Among the co-sponsors of the bills are Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed (D-13, Newport, Jamestown), and Senators Donna Nesselbush (D-15, Pawtucket, North Providence), William Conley, Jr. (D-18, East Providence, Pawtucket), Harold Metts (D-6, Providence), Gayle Goldin (D-3, Providence) and Hanna Gallo (D-27, Cranston, West Warwick).

Editorial note: Written from a state house news release.

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02871, Localblogging, GA, gun safety

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