Opponents, supporters of RI gun bills struggle to be heard during pandemic

Opponents, supporters of RI gun bills struggle to be heard during pandemic

PROVIDENCE – Few issues draw more people – and lobbyists – to the State House than guns, in a "normal year." They pack the marble stairs, the rotunda, the hallways in warring T-shirts: yellow for gun-owners, pink for "Moms Demand Action" and other gun-control advocacy groups. They arrive by the hundreds, and some years, the thousands. But this is not a normal year. With the State House doors still closed to the public to minimize the potential spread of COVID-19, roughly 350 people had signed up by the day-ahead deadline to testify remotely during Friday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing on gun bills. By late day Thursday, there were also "nearly 15,000 pieces of written testimony submitted to the committee,” according to House spokesman Larry Berman. Many are already online. And they reflect the hopes – and fears – that bills that floundered in the past when NRA "A’ rated Nicholas Mattiello was the House Speaker may have a chance of passage this year. Rhode Island gun owners also put out this call on Facebook: "If you are available today between 12-4 we will be at the entrance of the State House, Smith Street side. We are not allowed in the building. We have notified the police that we will be there to peacefully assemble. Wear Yellow. "We are not being heard so lets be seen! Please bring your signs! " The agenda includes bills to ban "military-style assault weapons,” place a 10-round limit on ammunition carrying magazines and prohibit […]

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