Legislative News – Feb. 7: House passes bill requiring notification of state and local police of gun buys

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House passes bill requiring notification of state and local police of gun buys

The House of Representatives Thursday passed legislation that would require gun dealers to notify the police in a gun buyer’s hometown as well as the State Police.     

The bill (2020-H 7103Aaa), introduced by Rep. Daniel P. McKiernan (D-Dist. 7, Providence), would require gun sellers to forward firearm applications to the superintendent of State Police and the police department of the city or town where the buyer resides.

The bill comes in the wake of an incident last year where a resident of Westerly purchased a gun from a firearms dealer in Richmond and used it to kill the manager of an affordable housing complex.

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Although Richmond Police conducted background checks, they were not aware that the buyer had a history with Westerly Police, including threats to buy a gun to kill himself and his estranged wife, which led to a stay at Butler Hospital.

“This is a simple matter of improving communication between law enforcement agencies,” said Representative McKiernan. “Local police departments are much more likely to have information regarding the mental health of a potential gun buyer. If there are concerns for the safety of the purchaser or others, then the police in the gun buyer’s community can take steps to keep the other agencies notified and potentially avert another tragedy.”

The measure now moves to the Senate where similar legislation (2020-S 2154) has been introduced by Senate Minority Leader Dennis L. Algiere (R-Dist. 38, Charlestown, South Kingstown, Westerly).