NRA Answers Questions From RI Lawmakers

Feb 28, 2013

A National Rifle Association lobbyist says Rhode Island already has enough laws to prosecute gun-related crimes.

State Police Cpt. James Manni and NRA Lobbyist Darin Goens taking part in a briefing with lawmakers at the Statehouse
Credit Ian Donnis / RIPR

Lobbyist Darin Goens  cautioned state reps Wednesday against what he called a rush to judgment inspired by the school shooting last year in Newtown, Connecticut. “By definition, criminals don’t follow the law. We’re really putting more restrictions on the law-abiding guys, who today are law-abiding citizens. But if we pass some of this stuff, we’re going to make some of these guys felons overnight."

Goens told liberal lawmakers that tougher laws won’t reduce violence. "Some of the cities with the most restrictive gun laws, Chicago, Baltimore, Washington, DC, I can go on and on, have the most violence. It doesn’t have to do anything to do necessarily with firearms. It has more to do with issues of gang violence, drugs, other cultural influences, mental illness."

Lawmakers are expected to consider a variety of gun-related bills later this session. Although Goens found a mostly supportive audience when he held the briefing, more stringent gun laws have faced an uphill battle at the General Assembly.

Less than 1/3 of the 75 state reps attended the briefing called by Woonsocket Democrat Representative Lisa Baldelli Hunt.

Anti-violence activist Teny Gross complained afterward that the briefing lacked balance. He likened the NRA’s support for guns to tobacco companies backing of cigarettes.

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