Cicilline, Advocates Rally Against Gun Violence

Jun 1, 2014

Congressman Outlines New Bill to Keep Guns Away from Seriously Dangerous Individuals

Urges RI Lawmakers to Move Forward with State Reporting Legislation 

PAWTUCKET, RI – U.S. Congressman David N. Cicilline (D-RI), Mayor James Diossa, Executive Director at the Institute for the Study & Practice of Nonviolence Teny Gross, and Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence Director Sydney Monstream-Quas and other coalition members today rallied in front of Rochambeau Library on Hope Street to call on Congress and state leaders to enact commonsense gun laws that will help law enforcement protect communities.  

Yesterday, Cicilline introduced the End the Purchase of Firearms by Dangerous Individuals Act that would ensure lifesaving information is submitted into the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to keep firearms away from individuals with a serious mental illness who are a danger to themselves and others.

“The tragic shooting in California and today's rally should serve as a call to action for Congress and state lawmakers to enact commonsense gun laws that will keep our communities safe,” said Cicilline, a founding member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns and a member of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force. “While no one law will completely end gun violence, there are very pragmatic things we can do to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals and this legislation will do just that. This legislation expands federal firearm disqualifications, incentives' states to set up effective mental health reporting systems and protects the rights and privacy of the seriously mentally ill."

“As a Mom, I worry about the safety of my kids. I wish I did not have to worry about gun violence affecting my family, but I do,” said Monstream-Quas of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence. “I want my kids to be safe at home, in our community, on the streets, in their schools. But 72 school shootings since Newtown? How can we be quiet? All of us should be working together toward stopping gun violence. It is preventable!”   

Since 2011, according to Everytown for Gun Safety, Rhode Island is the only state in the country that has not submitted any mental health records into the gun background check system.  The Rhode Island Legislative Commission led by Representative Deb Ruggiero is currently working on legislation to address this issue. 

In a letter to local lawmakers, Cicilline urged them to enact recommendations that would ensure Rhode Island submits mental health records into the NICS system stating: “Many States have decided to act to improve their process for submitting mental health records to NICS in the last two years. For example, Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo announced on May 28, 2014 that he would propose legislation to require a more robust process for reporting mental health information to the federal background check system. Moreover, neighboring Connecticut recorded a 43% increase in mental health records submitted to NICS between October 2011 and November 2013 after acting to improve their system. Clearly, it is time for Rhode Island to act.”

The End the Purchase of Firearms by Dangerous Individuals Act would improve state mental health reporting by:

·       Expanding the disqualifying mental health criteria to prevent a person from purchasing a gun if a mental health professional determines that the individual is likely to cause serious harm to themselves or others;

·       Encouraging states to establish systems for mental health professionals to voluntarily report patients meeting strict dangerousness standards into the FBI’s NICS system; 

·       Protecting patients’ privacy rights and allowing professionals to fully evaluate their own patient’s needs;

·       Providing for a robust appeals process.