Rhode Island House advances bill to seize guns from domestic violence offenders

The Rhode Island House Judiciary Committee approved a bill Wednesday that would allow authorities to take guns away from domestic violence offenders and people under domestic restraining orders.

The Associated Press reported the measure — H5110, also called the Protect Rhode Island Families Act — passed on a 13-5 vote and will now head to the full House for consideration.

Most Democrats voted for the bill, while most Republicans voted against it. The exception was Democratic Rep. Cale Keable, the committee’s chairman, who voted against the proposal.

The bill would essentially require individuals subject to domestic restraining orders and those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence offenses to surrender their firearms.

Under current state law, guns can be taken away from those convicted of felony assault, but someone would have to be convicted of at least three domestic assaults before being charged with a felony.

The measure has the full support of domestic violence prevention advocates and also has a key ally in Democratic House Speaker Micholas Mattiello, who has characterized the proposal not as a gun control bill but as one aimed to protect domestic violence victims.

“I support the Second Amendment,” Mattiello said Tuesday. “That’s the framework I come from. So these are not intended to be anti-gun bills. These are domestic violence protection bills.”

The National Rifle Association has come out strongly against the legislation, with its Institute for Legislation Action calling it “nothing more than the centerpiece of a national gun control agenda being bankrolled by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.”

Similar legislation has also been introduced in the Rhode Island Senate.