Raimondo signs order to establish 'red flag' policy

Gov. Gina Raimondo signs an executive order to establish a "red flag" policy in a ceremony at Warwick City Hall, Monday, Feb. 26, 2018. (WJAR)

Mass killers almost always have telegraphed their atrocities, but usually authorities find out after the fact.

Now, there is more attention being paid to the red flags raised by activities, social media posts, or verbal threats made in the weeks before the attacks.

Rhode Island is considering red flag legislation, that would allow police, with the issuance of a warrant from a judge, to seize guns from individuals who have demonstrated a propensity to hurting either themselves or others with their firearms.

Gov. Gina Raimondo pushed the red flag solution on Monday when she signed an executive order establishing a policy. It would encourage municipal police to share information about troubled individuals with state police. It calls on state departments to begin a public awareness campaign to tell people some of the warning signs. It would also establish a gun safety task force.

“This is not about taking guns away from people who are law abiding citizens who are sportsmen who are hunters,” Raimondo said. “This is about keeping Rhode Islanders safe.”

The signing ceremony at Warwick City Hall was attended by more than 30 municipal police chiefs, including Jamestown Chief Edward Mello.

“We know that this will allow for due process, because we respect the second amendment,” Mello said. “We know that this one law will not prevent all gun violence or all gun-related deaths, but this is an important tool that is much needed by law enforcement.”

Jennifer Smith Boylan from the advocacy group Moms Demand Action also spoke at the signing ceremony.

“Red flag laws empower families to alert law enforcement and the courts about indicators that a person who may be a danger to himself or others so actions can be taken to temporarily block people who may pose a serious threat from having firearms,” she said.

Connecticut has had such a law for nearly 20 years, and it’s credited with preventing numerous suicides. Massachusetts is considering a red flag law.

In Rhode Island, both the Senate and the House have introduced laws in the last week.

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