Intended Grandfathering Language Left out of RI Assault Weapon Bill; Drafting Error Cited

Apr 17, 2013

Legislative language that would allow Rhode Islanders who own guns defined as assault weapons to keep them after the July 1 effective date is missing from the relevant bill.

House Spokesman Larry Berman looked into the situation after being asked by RIPR to pinpoint the language grandfathering-in assault weapon owners after the targeted effective date. He says the relevant language was included in a companion bill on ammunition, but inadvertently left out of the assault weapon bill. "It was just a drafting error," Berman says. "We will fix it."

The missing language in the bill was brought to RIPR's attention by a local gun advocate.

Berman says the issue of grandfathering was in the notes and talking points for House Speaker Gordon Fox and Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed when they rolled out a nine-part legislative gun package at the Statehouse last week

Gun owners remain alarmed about what they consider potential infringements on their rights, as states and Congress consider new laws in response to the school shooting last year in Newtown, Connecticut. Supporters of gun control are sometimes dubbed "gun grabbers" in this debate.

Meanwhile, just how much -- if any -- of the Rhode Island gun package will become law remains open to question. Efforts to make RI gun laws more stringent have faced an uphill battle in recent years, in part since gun owners tend to more politically engaged than people on the other side of the issue.