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New Rhode Island law takes guns away from domestic abusers

A bill that would take guns away from domestic abusers and people under domestic restraining orders has become law. (WJAR)

A bill that would take guns away from domestic abusers and people under domestic restraining orders has become law.

Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo signed the legislation on Wednesday. The new law, which is referred to as "The Protect Rhode Island Families Act," takes effect immediately.

Supporters said the law will prohibit gun possession by domestic abusers convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence crimes and those subject to court-issued final restraining orders.

The law also makes sure that all those subject to the prohibition actually turn in their guns when they become prohibited from possessing them.

“At last, victims of domestic abuse in Rhode Island will not have the constant fear of knowing that the person who abused them still has a gun," Rep. Teresa Tanzi, a Democrat who represents South Kingstown and Narragansett, noted in a press release. "We’ve heard countless stories from victims about flagrant threats and ceaseless fear. And we know that the presence of a gun greatly increases the chances of a domestic violence victim being murdered. We’ve worked very hard to get to this point, and the reward will be greater safety for Rhode Island families."

Tanzi, along with Sen. Harold M. Metts, sponsored the measure.

"This bill will save the lives of people who have already been through too much, and I’m very proud of that," said Metts, who oversees Providence. "I’m also very proud of the way advocates from opposing interests came to the table and worked together so constructively to help make a bill something that we all can support. This was a great example of how the democratic process and compromise are supposed to work for the benefit of our citizens. While no one got everything they would like, I will say that everyone agreed that victims of domestic violence should not have to live under legitimate fear for their lives, and we’ve cooperated to come up with a bill that greatly improves their protection while addressing Second Amendment concerns."

Twenty-seven states have similar laws.

(NBC 10 News contributed to this report.)

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