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Red flag bill, bump stocks ban now law

Governor signs bills passed by General Assembly yesterday

STATE HOUSE – Following passage by the General Assembly yesterday, Gov. Gina M. Raimondo today signed into law two bills to prevent gun violence and mass shootings: “red flag” legislation that allows courts to disarm individuals who are believed by law enforcement to represent a violent threat to themselves or others, and a ban on bump stocks and other rapid-fire gun modifications.

The first bill, sponsored in the Senate by Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin and in the House by Rep. Dennis M. Canario, is known as a “red flag” law because it allows police to seek from Superior Court an “extreme risk protective order” that prohibits an individual from possessing firearms, based on threats and other warning signs that the person might commit violence.

“With this new law, we can truly prevent tragedies. People who are demonstrably unstable and are making serious threats should not be armed. All too often after a mass shooting we learn about all the warning signs people saw from the shooter and wonder why they still had guns. Unfortunately, it’s frequently because there isn’t always a legal means to disarm them. Finally, here in our state and in others that have been adopting red flag laws, we will have a speedy but fair process to ensure that those who pose a legitimate risk do not remain armed,” said Senator Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence).

Said Representative Canario (D-Dist. 71, Portsmouth, Little Compton, Tiverton), “This new law will disarm those who pose a serious threat for the protection of children and the public. As a retired police officer with more than 25 years of experience in the law enforcement field, I thank my fellow officers for their leadership and commitment to addressing this critical situation. With this new law, we have an important means of stopping troubled individuals from carrying out violence and preventing tragic events.”

The governor signed the bills in a State House ceremony today, flanked by House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, Senate President Dominick Ruggerio, both cosponsors of the red flag bill, and other legislators. The event was attended by gun safety advocates, many of whom wore orange in recognition of National Gun Violence Awareness Day.

“Since I’ve been governor, I’ve had to lower the state flag to half-staff 10 times because of mass shootings. The red flag law and bump stock ban will go a long way to prevent that kind of tragedy in Rhode Island and will make our state safer,” said Governor Raimondo. “Rhode Islanders are not going to wait for Washington to take action on gun violence. I appreciate the General Assembly’s leadership to pass these bills and I’m proud to sign them to send a loud and clear signal that Rhode Islanders will not stand for gun violence.”

Under the red flag law (2018-S 2492A, 2018-H 7688Aaa), an extreme risk protective order will prohibit an individual from possessing or purchasing guns, will require them to surrender guns in their possession and will invalidate any concealed carry permits they have. The order will be reported to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and all state and federal lists used for determining whether those seeking to purchase guns have been prohibited from doing so. Violating such an order would be a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

The order would be in place for one year, but could be renewed by the court. Those subject to one could also petition once per year to have them lifted.

Under the legislation, a law enforcement agency can petition Superior Court for an extreme risk protection order if it believes the individual poses a significant danger of causing imminent injury to himself or others by having a firearm. The petitioner must state to the court the specific statements, actions, or facts that give rise to a reasonable fear of future dangerous acts by that individual, and must concurrently file for a search warrant to search for any weapons the individual possesses.

Upon the filing for an order, the court may issue temporary extreme risk protective order, similar to a temporary restraining order, if the court finds probable cause to believe the individual poses an imminent threat to others or himself if armed.

A judge would determine at a hearing whether to issue an extreme risk protection order, considering
any recent acts or threats of violence with or without a firearm and patterns of such threats or acts in the previous year, and the individual’s mental health, substance abuse and criminal histories. The court would also consider any unlawful, threatening, or reckless use or brandishing of a firearm by the individual and evidence of any recent acquisition of a firearm.

Such legislation could have helped to prevent the Parkland, Fla., school shooting Feb. 14. Police say the alleged shooter carried out the attack with a legally purchased semi-automatic weapon. Before the shooting, his mother had contacted law enforcement about his behavior on multiple occasions, but Florida did not have a red flag law. It has since passed one.

According to Everytown for Gun Safety, a national advocacy group that supports the bill, a nationwide study of mass shootings from 2009 to 2016 showed that in least 42 percent of those incidents, there is documentation that the attacker exhibited dangerous warning signs before the shooting.

Connecticut, California, Indiana, Oregon and Washington enacted red flag laws prior to this year, and since the Parkland shooting, so have Florida, Maryland and Vermont.

The other bill (2018-H 7075Aaa, 2018-S 2292A), sponsored by Rep. Robert E. Craven and Sen. James A. Seveney, bans bump stocks, binary triggers and trigger cranks on semi-automatic weapons.

A bump stock is an attachment that allows the shooter to fire a semi-automatic weapon with great rapidity. It replaces a rifle’s standard stock, freeing the weapon to slide back and forth rapidly, harnessing the energy from the kickback shooters feel when the weapon fires.

In October’s mass shooting in Las Vegas, 12 of the rifles in the gunman’s possession were modified with a bump stock, allowing the weapon to fire about 90 shots in 10 seconds — a much faster rate than the AR-15 style assault rifle used by the Orlando nightclub shooter, which fired about 24 shots in nine seconds.

“With the enactment of this law, we are clearly stating that Rhode Island will not tolerate these dangerous tools of death. There is now no ambiguity; No one can buy, possess, attach or use a bump stock, trigger crank or binary crank in Rhode Island,” said Representative Craven (D-Dist. 32, North Kingstown).

Said Senator Seveney, (D-Dist. 11, Portsmouth, Bristol, Tiverton), “These devices are all ways to get around the federal law that bans fully automatic weapons by making semi-automatic weapons fire almost as fast as them. Today, we stop this end run and ban these horrific devices in Rhode Island.”

The new law makes it unlawful to possess, transport, manufacture, ship or sell a bump stock, regardless of whether the person is in possession of a firearm. Those violating the provisions, would face imprisonment for up to 10 years, a fine up to $10,000, or both. It would also make it unlawful and apply the same penalties for any person to modify any semi-automatic weapon to shoot full automatic fire with a single pull or hold of the trigger.

The new law also bans binary triggers, which is a device designed to fire one round on the pull of the trigger and another round upon release of the trigger, effectively doubling the weapon’s shooting capabilities; and trigger cranks, which attach to the trigger of a semi-automatic weapon and cause the weapon to fire by turning the crank handle.

Both bills have the support of Governor Raimondo, Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin, General Treasurer Seth Magaziner, the State Police, the Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence, the Rhode Island chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America (a part of Everytown) and the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

“Rhode Island has taken an important step in protecting its citizens from gun violence with the passage of the red flag law and banning bump stocks,” said Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin. “I applaud the leadership of the Rhode Island Police Chiefs Association for their advocacy on the red flag legislation, the General Assembly for the urgency in which they took up the measure, and the governor for signing it into law today. Until now, law enforcement’s hands have been tied when they come into contact with someone they believe is a danger to themselves and others. With the red flag law, we now have a legal process, with protections for individuals, to keep firearms out of the hands of dangerous individuals. Unfortunately, even in just the weeks that these bills were being discussed, we saw new incidents of gun violence, both nationally and closer to home. While the steps Rhode Island has taken today won’t eradicate the problem, it will provide additional tools to enhance public safety.”

Jennifer Boylan, a volunteer leader with the Rhode Island chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, said, “The legislature prioritizing these bills and Gov. Raimondo’s swift signing of them today, along with last year’s enactment of lifesaving domestic violence legislation demonstrates that Rhode Island is joining the ranks of states leading the fight to prevent gun violence. Once again, our lawmakers have listened to the majority of Rhode Islanders and taken action to protect our families and keep our communities safe. These bills will save lives and we are so proud to see them signed into law.”

“The Rhode Island State Police strongly supports any legislation that will help us save lives,” said Colonel Ann C. Assumpico, superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police and director of the Department of Public Safety. “These two new laws will help us in our efforts to keep deadly weapons out of the hands of dangerous individuals who pose a threat to our troopers, other law enforcement officers and the communities we are sworn to protect.”

“The root of the problem and the resulting tragedies all across this country reaffirms why we need sensible gun legislation and mental health reform,” said Central Falls Colonel James J. Mendonca, president of the Rhode Island Police Chiefs Association. “The signing of this bill goes a long way in tackling both issues in a sensible, responsible manner that balances an individual’s constitutional rights with maintaining public safety.”

For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-1923

Stephen Hopkins Center for Civil Rights Releases Data Brief Responding to Testimony of Office of Attorney General Kilmartin

Report of General Treasurer Showing Average forfeiture of only $1,524.00 Contradicts Rhode Island Attorney General’s Testimony

Opposing Asset Forfeiture Reform Legislation



Providence – Giovanni D. Cicione, Esq., Chairman of the Stephen Hopkins Center for Civil Rights, a non-profit legal advocacy group, today released a data brief which has been transmitted to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees.  This brief summarizes data regarding asset forfeitures that directly contradicts recent testimony of the office of the Attorney General made in opposition to House Bill 7640 and Senate Bill 2681, An Act Relating To Criminal Procedure – Asset Forfeiture.


Rhode Island’s civil asset forfeiture law has received a grade of “D-“ from the Institute for Justice, who produces a state by state report card on the topic.  As the law works today, law enforcement can seize and keep property and cash from individuals even when they haven’t been convicted of any crime.  For property to be returned, owners must prove by a preponderance of evidence that their property is not forfeitable, which is a huge burden especially for those without means to pursue such claims. Over the years, a number of states have reformed their forfeiture laws to better protect innocent individuals, while Rhode Island has lagged behind. Legislation is before the General Assembly which aims to change that.


Joee Lindbeck, lobbyist for Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, testified at both the House and Senate Judiciary committee hearings in opposition to legislation which would require a criminal conviction before seized assets may be forfeited.  Ms. Lindbeck asserted in both hearings that the proposed reforms would serve only to protect drug cartels and drug kingpins.


The Hopkins Center reviewed data collected by the Rhode Island General Treasurer on forfeiture cases in in 2015 and 2016, which was provided to us and requested under the Rhode Island Access to Public Records Act.  The Center then aggregated and analyzed that data in order to assess the realities of how the law is currently being used.  The results are clear – the majority of forfeitures were for small dollar amounts, not the type of cash or property “wealthy drug lords” have on hand.


“The data speaks for itself,” noted Chairman Cicione, “but it is worth emphasizing that the median value of all 2016 forfeitures—cash and property—was less than $1,600.  Over 85% of cash forfeitures involved $5,000 or less, and only 11 out of 241 cash forfeiture cases involved $10,000 or more, whereas 23 forfeitures were for $500 or less.”  “The smallest amount of cash forfeited was $116, and we don’t even know if this person was convicted of any crime before his or her cash was forfeited”, continued Cicione.


“We would ask Attorney General Kilmartin to reconsider his opposition to these reforms given the hard realities of the data and their previously discussed disparate impact on communities of color,” concluded Cicione.


The mission of the Stephen Hopkins Center for Civil Rights is to protect the rights that Americans recognize as fundamental.  The Hopkins Center litigates in areas of fiscal responsibility and transparency, school choice, free speech, and property rights to assist individuals the government has harmed, and ensure all Rhode islanders enjoy their constitutional rights. 

Reed Announces $300,000 for Small Business Research & Development Grants

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Jack Reed today announced that two Rhode Island small businesses have won federal grants to help accelerate clean energy breakthroughs.

Aquanis, Inc. of East Greenwich, and Prisere LLC, of Warwick, will each receive nearly $150,000 from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR).  The SBIR program is designed to help kick-start promising scientific discoveries and see them through to producing commercial products with societal benefits.

“I commend Aquanis and Prisere for their hard work and ingenuity in winning these competitive SBIR Phase I awards.  I am pleased federal research dollars are flowing to Rhode Island to help advance cutting-edge research and technology.  I have long supported SBIR funding to try to bring together private sector expertise with federal research and development efforts,” said Reed, a member of the Appropriations Committee.  “One of the best ways to grow Rhode Island’s economy is by helping companies that are on the cutting edge invest, expand, and hire new workers here at home.  Together, we can help make Rhode Island a great place for entrepreneurs to start and grow a company and ensure more small businesses can launch their innovative ideas and products.”

The DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) is awarding Aquanis $149,923 in federal funding to help develop a wind turbine blade surface coating to improve the efficiency of wind turbines by reducing damage that results from lightning.  Lightning damage to wind turbines is one of the largest expenses for wind farm operators and is expected to get worse in the coming years. In this project, an innovative coating will be developed that can be mixed in the blade’s gelcoat to help minimize lightning-caused blade damage.

In 2016, Aquanis won a National Science Foundation (NSF) Phase I SBIR grant of $224,969 for the development and testing of a device to improve the efficiency and extend the service life of utility-scale wind turbines.

Prisere is being awarded $149,864 in federal funding to develop building energy modeling applications to address the so-called ‘energy paradox’ — the failure to invest in energy efficiency despite evidence that such investment yields a positive return.  Prisere’s work will help unlock reinsurance capital to finance energy efficiency measures that enhance the resiliency of properties, thereby lowering disaster-related losses.

Nationwide, DOE technology offices awarded a total of 87 Phase I SBIR grants to small businesses in 34 states around the country that demonstrated technical feasibility for innovations during the first phase of their research.  Most Phase I awards are for approximately $150,000 for one year.  If completed successfully, Phase I projects are eligible for Phase II funding.  Phase II funding awards may provide up to $1.5 million, depending on the technology, and an award known as a sequential Phase II award can provide up to an additional $1 million.

Raimondo, DEM, Partners Announce Over $210,000 In Grants To Local Food Businesses

PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM), along with its partners, today awarded over $210,000 to 21 local food businesses as part of its annual Agriculture “Ag” Day celebration at the State House. The awards, funded under the Local Agriculture & Seafood Act (LASA) grant program, help new and existing small businesses and food initiatives prosper in Rhode Island.

“Agriculture Day shines a bright light on Rhode Island’s vibrant food scene and rich agricultural and fishing heritage,” said Governor Gina Raimondo. “Today’s Local Agriculture and Seafood Act grants will help nurture new food ventures and grow our state’s green economy. I congratulate all grant recipients and look forward to celebrating the success of these outstanding initiatives.”

Now in its fifth year, LASA has provided over $1.1 million – through grants up to $20,000 – to support growth of Rhode Island’s local food economy. The state’s food scene is often cited as an area of economic strength ripe for innovation and growth. Already, the local food industry supports 60,000 jobs, and the state’s green industries account for more than 15,000 jobs and contribute $2.5 billion to the economy annually.

“I’m thrilled to award these grants to help farmers, fishers and food businesses start or expand their operations in Rhode Island,” said DEM Director Janet Coit. “Our state has a vibrant food scene and rich agricultural and fishing heritage, and I look forward to the initiatives and businesses this latest grant round will help inspire.”

“The LASA program has inspired Rhode Island’s agriculture and seafood businesses to innovate and grow,” said Nessa Richman, Network Director for the RI Food Policy Council. “Results from the first comprehensive evaluation of the program show impacts in terms of new product, new markets, increased sales, jobs created, and more that exceed expectations. Funds like this are a key part of the infrastructure for a local food economy.”

The 2018 LASA grant awards include:

African Alliance of RI, Providence/Johnston, $15,140: To support community garden/farm efforts though purchase of equipment/supplies and a part-time farm manager

Carl Berg, Little Compton, $5,500: To improve aquaculture production and markets for Sakonnet-grown shellfish

Ester & Joel Bishop, Tiverton, $7,000: To purchase a mobile processing unit for poultry

Blackstone Bees, LLC, Smithfield, $10,000: To create a new, sizeable apiary

Deep Roots Farm, Chepachet, $5,794: To purchase two grain bins to hold chicken and pig feed, bulk feeders, and equipment to move grain around the farm

Eating with the Ecosystem, Statewide, $12,000: To support outreach and marketing of local seafood

Garman Farm, Newport, $6,150: To construct a wood-framed shed for equipment storage/wash-and-pack line

Herb & Forage LLC, North Kingstown, $8,086: To construct a facility for safe washing and storage

Hope’s Harvest RI, Statewide, $9,000: To support farmer participation in farm gleaning project

Robert F.D. Payne, Exeter, $18,200: To provide seed money for the South County Sustainable Tool Library

Rachel Playe, Providence, $12,825: To build a drying shed for medicinal herbs

Rhode Island Land Access Work Group, Statewide, $18,000: To support the organization’s farm succession school and farm match program, and produce three RI farm “success stories”

Joel Russell, Hopkinton, $7,000: For contracted labor to design and install a public water system on the farm property

Sanctuary Herbs of Providence, Providence, $6,500: For purchase of a tea-bagging machine to help further develop market for local tea in Rhode Island while working with refugee farmers

Skinny Dip Farm, Little Compton, $9,982: To purchase a walk-in cooler, thermometer, and hydrometer

Sweet Pea Farm, Charlestown, $6,115: To construct a wash station and a walk-in cooler

Urban Greens Food Co-op, Providence, $19,500: To support development of kitchen to help increase capacity for processing and use of local ingredients

Samantha Vallone & William Morin, Chepachet, $6,025: To construct a wash-and-pack station and expand cold storage capacity

Westbay Community Action/Westbay Farm, Warwick, $12,200: To build a root cellar to expand capacity of community farm

Nathaniel Wood & Adam Graffunder, Johnston, $6,940: For purchase of farming equipment to increase the efficiency of the no-till, bio-intensive farming operation at Snake Den Farm

Young Farmer Network, Statewide, $11,140: To support education programming and network development for young farmers in Rhode Island

In partnership with the Rhode Island Food Policy Council, LASA is funded by the state with generous support from the van Beuren Charitable Foundation, the Henry P. Kendall Foundation, and the Rhode Island Foundation. In addition to the above grant awards, $20,000 is directed to DEM and the Rhode Island Seafood Marketing Collaborative to support the state’s local seafood campaign, RI Seafood. Local seafood is poised to spur the next wave of food-based economic growth. Last year, more than 100 million pounds of seafood arrived at a local port, with an export value over $1 billion.

As part of Ag Day festivities, local farmers, food businesses, and community groups are set up around the State House Rotunda from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. today and offer free food samples and information about their work. For more information on DEM programs and initiatives, visit Follow us on Facebook at or on Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM) for timely updates.

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