Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo signed an executive order establishing a statewide "red flag" policy to help keep guns away from people "who pose a danger to themselves and others."
Rhode Island becomes the sixth state to take the action and the first since the Feb. 14 shooting at a Florida high school where 17 students and staff were killed.
"The heartbreaking shooting in Parkland has once again proven that if the federal government won't act, states need to do more to prevent the gun violence that has become far too common. We cannot wait a minute longer for Washington to take action to prevent gun violence," said Governor Raimondo. "The executive order I signed today is an immediate step we can take to make residents safer. It sets the table for a complementary legislative effort."
Rhode Island's Red Flag Executive Order makes important strides in strengthening law enforcement's response to those who could pose significant threats to public safety. It also directs new efforts to educate school departments and the general public about red flags that indicate a person might be in need of intervention.
The executive order:
- Directs law enforcement agencies to consider all red flags, including recent threats of violence made in person, in videos and on social media and take all available legal steps to remove firearms from any person who poses a threat to themselves or others.
- Calls for the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, the Commissioner of Education and the Department of Public Safety to launch a public information campaign to raise awareness of red flags that indicate a person could be a violent threat
- Convenes a new Gun Safety Working Group. The group will develop recommendations to address gun violence and support Rhode Island's efforts in the new multi-state gun-safety coalition. Five states - Connecticut, California, Washington, Oregon and Indiana - have passed red flag laws in recent years. Governor Raimondo stressed that the executive order signed today marks an important first step but further legislative action is needed to address gun violence. She applauds the legislature for introducing strong red flag legislation and urges the General Assembly to take swift action.
"Today is a major victory for Rhode Islanders and an encouraging sign for people throughout the country as they demand lawmakers take concrete action to prevent gun violence. This is the first executive action on red flags since Parkland, and our thousands of advocates in Rhode Island and around the country could not be more proud that this effort was led by Governor Raimondo," said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, part of Everytown for Gun Safety. "This executive action can help save lives and prevent acts of gun violence, and it is urgent that the legislature act swiftly to pass comprehensive legislation to further empower family members and law enforcement to keep our communities safe."
"Red Flag legislation is a way to stop tragedies before they happen. Of course someone who has guns and is making serious threats to harm people with them should not be armed," said Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin, who is sponsoring red flag legislation in the Senate. "Too often, after a mass shooting we learn about all the warning signs people saw from the shooter and wonder why they still had guns. But the truth is, there isn't always a legal means to stop them. These actions will provide a speedy but fair process to ensure that those who pose a legitimate risk do not remain armed."