Gun control debate returns to State House - News, Weather and Classifieds for Southern New England

Gun control debate returns to State House

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Hundreds of gun rights supporters gathered at the Rhode Island State House on Tuesday to oppose another attempt to ban semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity magazines.

The proposals were prompted by the deadly 2012 school shooting in Newtown, Conn. Similar legislation was introduced last year but failed to get a vote following vocal opposition from gun rights supporters who insist the measures will infringe on the Second Amendment without reducing gun violence.

"Criminals do not obey the laws — they are not the ones affected by a weapons ban," said Frank Saccoccio, a member of the Rhode Island Second Amendment Coalition, which rallied on the Statehouse steps before a legislative hearing on the bill.

Supporters of the proposed ban held a smaller rally inside the Statehouse. Several said banning firearms designed for military use would help prevent not only massacres like the one in Newtown, but also the daily acts of gun violence seen in communities across the nation.

"These preventable tragedies should not become the norm," said Nan Heroux of Middletown, a member of the state chapter of the organization Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

Similar proposals were introduced in statehouses around the country last year and lawmakers in Colorado, New York and Connecticut enacted tougher gun laws following mass shootings at a suburban Denver movie theater and at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

Lawmakers in Rhode Island have not scheduled votes on the measures.

Other fire-arm related bills being considered by lawmakers include legislation that would bar an individual convicted of misdemeanor domestic assault from owning a firearm. Another would impose a $50 fine on those convicted of firearms offenses; the money would support firearm violence prevention efforts.

A third bill would change an existing prohibition on guns in schools to allow teachers and other non-students age 18 and older to carry a firearm on school grounds.

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