House committee approves gun laws amid protest

The Rhode Island House Judiciary Committee approved two separate bills to establish a state "red flag" policy, as well as a ban on bump stocks. (WJAR)

Two pieces of gun control legislation are one step closer to becoming law in Rhode Island after passing the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday.

One bill known as the "red flag" policy would allow law enforcement, through the authority of a judge, to take away a gun from someone deemed a danger to him or herself or others.

The bill was approved despite a large contingent of vocal opposition from supporters of the Second Amendment, who gathered at the State House prior to the vote.

"It does have a good intent on it, but it should be narrowly focused so that it goes after people that are truly dangerous, not the law-abiding citizen. You're casting the net too big,” said Frank Saccoccio of the RI Second Amendment Coalition. “It is overbroad, violates due process, fundamental fairness and it could basically criminalize activity which is not criminal right now.”

But the bill's House sponsor said all his measure can do is save lives.

"I've shot on the range all my life, and being a law enforcement officer, I'm very familiar with guns,” said Rep. Dennis Canario, a Democrat from District 71. “I think this bill does very little to infringe upon second amendment rights. What this does is gives law enforcement the means of getting the guns out of those who threaten to do harm to others.”

In addition to Canario’s bill, another measure that would ban bump stocks in Rhode Island also passed the House Judiciary Committee.

Both measures are expected to be voted on by the full House of Representatives on Thursday.

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