STATE HOUSE – Both the Senate and the House today passed legislation which would prohibit anyone, with certain exceptions, from bringing a firearm onto school property. The Senate version of the bill (2021-S 0073) is sponsored by Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio and the House legislation (2021-H 5555A) is sponsored by Majority Whip Katherine S. Kazarian.
The bills are named The Harold M. Metts School Safety Act of 2021 in honor of its longtime champion in the Senate. Whip Kazarian has introduced the legislation for the past several sessions.
“Guns do not belong in schools, and private citizens have no business bringing a gun on school property,” said President Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence). “Citizens carrying firearms in schools increases risk, not safety. There have been dozens of examples of mishandling and accidental discharge of firearms in schools across our nation. We are working hard to improve education in our state. The presence of firearms in schools is detrimental to a positive learning environment.”
“Our nation has suffered so many horrific and tragic school shootings. Every parent deserves an assurance that no one is allowed to enter their child’s school armed. Guns simply have no place in schools, and we shouldn’t accept a situation that allows anyone outside the police to carry them there,” said Whip Kazarian (D-Dist. 63, East Providence). “This legislation give schools the same protections already afforded to the Rhode Island Convention Center, our post offices as well as our very own State House.”
“My Office prosecutes hundreds of gun crimes every year and it is through that experience that I have seen the trauma caused by gun violence,” said Attorney General Peter F. Neronha. “The Harold M. Metts School Safety Act is a common-sense step that lowers the risk of gun violence and enhances the safety of anyone in and around our schools. I applaud the work of Senate President Ruggerio, Representative Kazarian, the General Assembly, my fellow general officers, and advocates for their work in passing this important piece of legislation.”
This legislation would prohibit the possession of firearms on school grounds except for peace officers, retired law enforcement officers, persons under contract to provide school security services, and unloaded firearms in locked containers or a locked rack in a motor vehicle.
The legislation would apply to the property of any public or private elementary or secondary school, including school buses. Activities that would be exempt from the proposed law include firearm instruction and/or safety courses; government-sponsored military-related programs such as ROTC; interscholastic shooting and/or marksmanship events; military history and firearms collection courses; and the use of blank guns used in theatrical or athletic events.
President Ruggerio’s bill now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration and Whip Kazarian’s bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.
Note: Written from a State House news release.