Press Release

Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo Signs Legislation Regulating Ghost Guns

June 23, 2020 — Giffords, the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, praised Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo for signing into law legislation that regulates ghost guns—firearms manufactured in the home which can be obtained without a background check, lack serial numbers, and are therefore untraceable by law enforcement if used in a crime.

Statement from former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, co-founder of Giffords:

“Governor Raimondo stood up to the gun lobby and put the safety of Rhode Islanders first. Ghost guns are being used more and more by people who could never pass a background check. She’s fixing that, and signing this legislation is a bold step that will better protect communities throughout Rhode Island. Giffords is proud to stand with Gov. Raimondo as she demonstrates the courage needed to end gun violence.”

Ghost guns can be built at home without a manufacturer’s license by anyone with access to common household tools. 3D-printed guns are a type of ghost gun, but less common than DIY kits. Ghost gun websites sell unfinished versions of the gun component that holds the firing mechanism, called a receiver or a frame, which can be easily completed using simple tools available at any hardware store. The websites sell kits that include the tools necessary to complete the lower receiver, as well as all the other parts required to assemble fully functional firearms, including handguns and AR-15-style assault rifles.

Earlier this year, former Congresswoman Giffords traveled to Rhode Island to participate in a roundtable with Governor Raimondo; Attorney General Neronha; Rhode Island State Police leadership; local survivors; and advocates from Thoughts, Prayers, Action, Guns into Plowshare Project; and the Nonviolence Institute to discuss solutions to reducing gun violence in Rhode Island, including the regulation of ghost guns.

Giffords also recently launched an initiative to bring national attention to the alarming rise in these dangerous, untraceable do-it-yourself weapons. The new effort coincided with federal legislation introduced in the US Senate by Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), the Untraceable Firearms Act, which prohibits the manufacture and sale of firearms without serial numbers.

A centerpiece of the initiative is the first episode in a new explainer video series from Giffords, “Closing Loopholes: The Truth About Guns,” which describes ghost guns, why they are so dangerous, and why we need a federal solution to reduce the threat. In the coming weeks, Giffords will continue releasing material that gives experts, policymakers, and the public a deeper understanding of the existential threat ghost guns pose.

In the latest edition of the Annual Gun Law Scorecard, Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence graded and ranked each state on the strength of its gun laws and found that Rhode Island earned a “B+” for the strength of its gun laws. Gun violence in Rhode Island costs the state $95 million in directly measurable costs, with a direct annual cost to taxpayers of over $19 million. 

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