PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Three firearms bills, including a ban on magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, are headed to the governor’s desk after passing the Rhode Island Senate.
The bills passed Tuesday night — intended to reduce gun violence and prevent mass shootings like recent ones in New York and Texas — also raise from 18 to 21 the state’s minimum age for buying rifles and shotguns, and prohibit loaded rifles and shotguns from being carried in public.
The bills were passed last week by the state House of Representatives. A spokesperson for Democratic Gov. Dan McKee said Wednesday that he is expected to sign them.
The Senate version of the large-capacity magazine ban stalled in the Senate Judiciary Committee, but the full Senate passed the House version of the legislation 25-11.
“High-capacity magazines have no legitimate purpose for hunting or self-defense,” Democratic committee Chair Sen. Cynthia Coyne said in a statement. “They enable shooters to unleash torrents of bullets and inflict maximum harm in mere seconds, making them a tool of the trade for mass shootings, drug trafficking and gang violence.”
Some lawmakers had sought to exempt high-capacity magazines that Rhode Islanders already own, but the proposal failed.
Under the bill, those who already own large-capacity magazines or weapons will have 180 days to permanently alter them so they comply with the law, surrender them to police, or sell them to buyers in places where they remain legal. Law enforcement and military personnel are exempted.
The state Republican Party said the high-capacity magazine ban will turn law-abiding citizens into criminals.
“This is rather breathtaking,” the party said in a statement. “In just a few months, tens of thousands of Rhode Island gun owners could become felons. Never have so many law-abiding citizens been put at risk for jail time since the days of Prohibition when possession of alcohol was a crime.”
Another bill amends current state law that bars the sale or possession of handguns to people under 21 to include rifles and shotguns.
“It is well-settled science that teenage and post-teenage brains are still developing,” Democratic Sen. Maryellen Goodwin said in a statement. “It’s common sense that we shouldn’t be selling lethal weapons to people who we’ve decided are not old enough to buy cigarettes or beer.”
Supporters of the measure noted that the suspects in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, were both 18.