Governor McKee Signs Safe Storage of Firearms into Law

 Governor McKee Signs Safe Storage of Firearms into Law
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Advocate and survivor Patti Alley shares her family’s story

PROVIDENCE, RI — Governor Dan McKee, joined by general officers and gun safety advocates, signed into law the Safe Storage for Firearms legislation (H 7373A/S 2202A) sponsored by Senator Pamela Lauria (D-Dist. 32, Barrington, Bristol, East Providence) and Representative Justine Caldwell (D-Dist. 30, East Greenwich, West Greenwich).

The event included emotional testimony from advocate Patti Alley, who shared with the audience the story of her sister’s suicide—an event she believes would not have happened if safe storage of firearms had been law at the time. She and other survivors in the audience received ceremonial pens at the time of the bill signing.

The Safe Storage of Firearms law mandates that firearms be stored in secured or locked containers or be equipped with a tamper-resistant lock or other safety device, with fines of up to $250 for first offense, $1,000 for second, and fines and/or potential imprisonment of up to six months for a third violation. More severe fines and potential prison sentences may be imposed upon those who do not secure firearms if a child or someone prohibited from possessing a firearm gains access.

Firearms dealers in Rhode Island are now required to post informational signs regarding safe storage.

Governor McKee thanked Senator Lauria and Representative Caldwell for delivering this bill and acknowledged both the public and behind-the-scenes work of the advocacy groups Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence and the Rhode Island Chapter of Moms Demand Action. “We may never know the actual number of injuries or fatalities averted by the work you have done this session, but rest assured, this law will save lives,” he said, adding, “I know there are survivors in the audience, and please know, your advocacy is making a difference.”

Alley recounted the story of her sister, Allyson, who gained access to an unsecured gun after a break-up with her boyfriend. “One of the first things I learned after Ally died was that Rhode Island had no law requiring guns to be safely stored when not under control of the owner,” she recounted. “I could not accept that there was no legal requirement for responsibility or accountability, so I joined Representative Justine Caldwell’s long fight to make secure storage of firearms the law.”


Talking about deriving meaning from tragedy, Alley added, “It is often said that women multiply and enlarge what is entrusted to them, and that’s what my fellow moms did to transform the raw grit of my grief into a beautiful pearl. … They reassured me that my pain and grief could serve a greater purpose.”

Other members of the speaking program had this to say:

“I am grateful to the legislators and advocates who have fought to pass this important and well-crafted bill to reduce preventable gun violence,” said Lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos. “Importantly, it also engages every stakeholder, including owners, dealers, the state police, and our schools, in disseminating information about how to safely store your firearm. It takes the efforts of our whole state to keep families safe, and this legislation brings everyone to the table to do just that.”

“Requiring guns to be safely and securely stored is a commonsense approach to minimizing the threats posed by these weapons – especially to children and others who should not be able to access them,” said Secretary of State Gregg M. Amore. “I extend my sincere appreciation and congratulations to Governor McKee, bill sponsors Senator Lauria and Representative Caldwell, and the advocates who worked tirelessly to achieve this goal.”

“We must do everything we can to prevent gun tragedies in our state, and this bill is essential in doing just that. I applaud Governor McKee for his leadership, and Senator Lauria and Representative Caldwell for ensuring this bill got across the finish line,” said General Treasurer James A. Diossa.

“We have insurance mandates for the coverage of pediatric cancer because it’s unacceptable not to do all we can to prevent children from dying of cancer. We require appropriate restraints in vehicles because it’s unacceptable not to protect children from dying in car crashes. But gun violence, not cancer or car collisions, is the leading cause of death for children, and that’s unacceptable when we have the tools to decrease its occurrence. This is the seat belt law for responsible gun ownership,” said Senator Lauria. “More than 4.6 million U.S. children live in a home with a loaded, unlocked gun, and every one of those children deserves better safety. It’s critical for the safety of kids and the public that all gun owners are responsible and keep their firearms securely stored.”

“Requiring that all firearms be stored safely is a critically important step forward for the safety of Rhode Islanders of all ages, one that has been a goal for many years among those of us who work to protect against gun violence,” said Representative Caldwell. “Leaving a lethal weapon where anyone else can use it is an invitation to tragedy. Ensuring that all weapons are stored in a way that keeps them out of the hands that shouldn’t touch them protects not only the public in general, but gun owners and their families in particular. I am proud that Rhode Island is joining the ranks of states that recognize that responsible gun ownership must include secure storage.”

The Safe Storage of Firearms law is effective upon passage.

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