As of October 30, 2017, in Rhode Island, if you are convicted of domestic violence, you stand to lose more than time in jail, you could lose your Second Amendment right. The Protect Rhode Island Families Act was recently passed by the General Assembly and was signed into law by Governor Raimondo. It's a law aimed at frustrating the rights of citizens in Rhode Island who wish to uphold their Second Amendment rights.
The bill was flawed from the beginning. It was initially introduced 3 years ago, but because of numerous loopholes and ongoing issues it didn't go anywhere. Not until this year, on September 19, 2017, it passed the House with 58 yes votes and then the Senate with 33 yes votes. Flaws, however, still exist, and this is to your detriment if you possess guns and live in Rhode Island.
Unanswered Questions & the Protect Rhode Island Families Act
Ultimately, this bill as it is removes judicial discretion. You could also, for the commission of a misdemeanor, be banned from owning a gun again. The bill also fails to answer the following questions:
- If your right to possess a gun is taken away, where do you store your firearms?
- If your right to possess a gun is taken away, who pays for the storage of the firearms?
- If your right to possess a gun is taken away, who is liable if something happens to your firearms if stolen or otherwise while being stored or in the possession of someone else?
If the bill is to address domestic violence, there are other federal and state laws that do so. Further, under those same federal and state laws, the Second Amendment rights of "suspects" of domestic violence were still upheld. Domestic violence is a horrible crime, but there are always two sides of the story. Many suspects are innocent, but with this kind of law, their due process comes into question and they are no longer innocent until proven guilty.
The Law, What It Does & Who It Impacts
States already with similar domestic violence gun laws include Washington D.C., Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire among others. Those who are the subject of an order of protection (restraining order) must surrender any firearms they own within a 24 hour period. During the standard hearing regarding the protection order that is conducted within 15 days, the court now will also decide whether to retain the firearm or return it to the party. Those convicted may seek recovery of their guns after their sentence is finalized or the order of protection is lifted.
Those required to surrender their firearm may transfer ownership of their guns to another individual or gun seller who is neither a relative nor also living at the same property. Under this law, the state has increased its prohibition on the purchase, ownership, or possession of firearms to the following:
- Fugitives of justice or illegal aliens
- Those deemed mentally incompetent
- Those ordered to undergo drug treatment or confinement
- Domestic abusers & those convicted of other violent-based offenses, including anyone suspected of cyberstalking, cyber-harassment, and disorderly conduct.
If you are a gun owner and if you want to maintain your right to your guns, you need to be aware of this new law. If you have been arrested for domestic violence, it is important that you fight the charge, or else you risk losing your Second Amendment right indefinitely.