PROVIDENCE — A proposal to ban large-capacity magazines was defeated by a 6-6 vote at a Senate committee on Tuesday, prompting cheers of triumph from gun rights protesters just beyond from the entrance.
But the battle was far from over. As night fell, the full Senate was debating — and poised to vote — the House-passed version of the bill to ban gun magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.
In an emotional speech to the Senate, Senator Cynthia Coyne, a retired Rhode Island State Police lieutenant who heads the Senate Judiciary Committee, told her colleagues:
“Critics will argue that no law can prevent the horrific massacres we have seen in Buffalo, Uvalde and so many other places. But the reality is that we can take meaningful steps to reduce the risk of such a tragedy here. in our state.
“High-capacity magazines enable mass killing. That is their only purpose. As such, they have no place on our streets and in our society.”
Without a grandfather clause, Sen. Frank Lombardi called the proposed new law an “unlawful take.”
But opponents cited the letter Attorney General Peter Neronha sent to lawmakers hours before last week’s House vote on gun control measures. His letter said, among other things:
“Let me be clear – we need to reduce the supply of high-capacity magazines in Rhode Island.
“Adding a grandfather clause would render this legislation unenforceable and functionally meaningless.”
He explained: “Most high-capacity magazines do not have identifying marks, serial numbers or registration numbers, which could be used to indicate when they were manufactured or sold.
“Because law enforcement would not be able to verify whether a person owned a magazine prior to the effective date of this legislation, such an exemption would serve as a readily available defense for any potential defendant.
“Rhode Island should learn from the experience of states such as California and New York, which both repealed previously enacted grandfather provisions for this very reason,” Neronha said.
As 7 p.m. approached, the Senate was heading for a vote on Ciccone’s proposed amendment.
The day had several twists and turns.
“Stay tuned,” Senate Speaker Dominick Ruggerio told the Journal after the Senate Judiciary Committee’s tie vote on banning large-capacity magazines appeared to condemn the Senate version of the legislation that authorized the House last week.
It wasn’t long before the next move became clear.
Senate Majority Leader Michael McCaffrey called on the entire Senate to pass the House-passed version of the “immediate review” high-capacity magazine ban. Republicans opposed it, but more than two-thirds of other senators present and voting have given their consent.
The full Senate is expected to pass the House-passed version of the magazine ban sometime Tuesday night, along with the two gun package bills that won the approval of the judiciary. Senate.
We would raise the minimum age from 18 to 21 to buy a firearm or ammunition. The other would prohibit people from openly carrying loaded shotguns or rifles. All could be directed to the governor’s office, to be signed into law, before the night was over.
If passed, the third bill will ban high-capacity magazines holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition that can be “continuously and directly fed…into a semi-automatic firearm.” Rhode Island would become the 11th state to limit store capacity.
Those who currently own the devices would have 180 days to convert them, hand them over to state or local law enforcement, or sell or transfer them to people in states where they are legal.
While debate over the version passed by the House lasted for hours last week, there was little discussion in the Senate Judiciary Committee before the 6-6 vote.
Those who voted for the bill included: Ruggerio, Senate Majority Leader Michael McCaffrey, Senate Whip Maryellen Goodwin, Senate Judiciary Chair Cynthia Coyne and Senators Ana Quezada and Dawn Euer.
Those who voted against the bill included Republicans Gordon Rogers and Jessica de la Cruz and Democrats Stephen Archambault, Leonidas Raptakis, John Burke and Frank Lombardi.
“I’m pretty shocked and I’m staying tuned,” gun control activist Jennifer Boylan said, taking inspiration from Ruggerio’s remarks.
Immediately after the vote, Linda Finn, the former leader of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence, tweeted: “Senator Burke has sought approval from @RICAGV1 by agreeing to ban HCMs over 10 rounds. It won the D primary based on that endorsement and our support in his district…then vacated it after the primary.”
As of noon Tuesday, the gun debate at the Rhode Island State House had boiled down to a nose-counting exercise for Senate leaders with several possible outcomes, although Senate spokesman Greg Paré, has always expressed his confidence.
“The President of the Senate supports the bills and we expect them to receive committee approval.”
The eight-member Judiciary Committee is dominated 5-to-3 by senators who had “A” grades from the National Rifle Association in 2020, so passage would have depended, at least in part, on Ruggerio and his two top lieutenants falling in. the Senate Judiciary Committee long enough to vote in favor of the package.
RI House Exceeds Gun Limits:Large capacity magazines banned, minimum age 21 to purchase
They did exactly that last year to get a bill banning guns on school grounds from the same committee in a close vote last year. And they did it again on Tuesday, but it wasn’t enough to turn the tide.
The Senate leadership opted for a different approach: leaving the House-approved version of the bills bypasses the committee entirely and goes directly to the full Senate for “immediate consideration,” with the consent of two-thirds of the Senate.