Rhode Island AG – Make Local Police Aware of Any Gun Purchases

By Faye Higbee

Rhode Island AG Peter Neronha has proposed a tightening of gun laws in the state in which gun dealers would be required to advise police chiefs of anyone attempting to purchase a gun. That applies to whether or not the gun is purchased in their city or elsewhere. As of now, it’s only a proposal.

South Coast Today reported,

In the wake of the recent Westerly shootings, Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha suggests a tightening of state gun laws to — at the very least — give hometown police chiefs notice that someone who lives in their community is seeking to buy a firearm elsewhere.

Asked about Neronha’s 2020 legislative agenda, spokeswoman Kristy dosReis said this week that one “simple change” would clarify that gun stores should submit the application to purchase a firearm to the police department where the buyer lives, instead of, or in addition to, where the gun store is located.

“A police department in the city or town where the purchaser resides is more likely to have additional information about the purchaser than a police department in another town (where the gun store is, for example),” dosReis said in an email. “That additional information, even if it does not constitute a legal prohibitor, could potentially allow that police department to take additional steps if there are reasons to be concerned about the safety of the purchaser or any other person.

“Such actions could range from having a simple conversation with the purchaser to potentially seeking a red flag order to stop the sale, if there is a legal basis to pursue one,” she said.

So is AG Neronha fishing for excuses to disarm someone even when there is no legal prohibition? To be sure, sometimes local police departments have ‘other information’ that was not an arrest or prosecution. But is that a fishing expedition – is it a legal reason to stop a gun purchase?

Recently, Rhode Island successfully seized a man’s gun under the Red Flag Law adopted in 2018 for the first time.

The Providence Journal reported on Jan 8, 2020,

“Police seized the weapon after the man, who had “emotional issues,” was taken to the hospital and members of his family called police, Lapatin said.

“Family members advised he had a gun,” Lapatin said. “They thought it best that he didn’t, and so did we.”

Police attempted to confiscate weapons using the red flag law “several” other times since the law’s adoption, Lapatin said, but in each instance didn’t have enough evidence for a judge to approve the order, known as an “extreme risk protection order.”

“In most of them, it’s cooperation that we’re missing from complainants and family members,” Lapatin said.

The department, though, has been taking weapons off the street through other methods.”

No one wants a person to grab a gun and go on a shooting spree. But are Red Flag Laws the way to do it?

Featured photo: Rhode Island AG Peter Neronha- Facebook

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