I have known Chris for twelve plus years now. We met at a sailboat manufacturing company we both worked at and our friendship quickly evolved outside the work place to similar interests which revolved around sailing, firearms, politics, and patriotism. We spoke after American Partisan ran the Tiverton Rod & Gun club post earlier this week and I asked him if he wanted to post Rhode Island’s story on the 2A fight and a follow-up post concerning the rally on January 23, 2020. Here is Part-1. Enjoy!
Rhode Island 2A Fight – Part 1
By Chris Souza
I was pleasantly surprised to see that American Partisan posted the article RHODE ISLAND SECOND AMENDMENT CALL TO ACTION on January 22, 2020 because little Rhody typically receives little attention except when a Kennedy steps off the reservation. I reached out to a good friend JohnyMac a prior Rhode Island citizen to share with American Partisan readers Rhode Island’s continuing fight and what transpired at the January 23, 2020 rally.
A little background about Rhode Island politics and the current Government position on the 2nd Amendment.
Rhode Island has been an almost exclusively Democrat controlled State for the past few decades. We have had some Republican Governors, but our General Assembly has been 80+% Dem controlled. We are now in our 2nd term with Governor Gina Raimondo, a Democrat that wants nothing more than to use Rhode Island to get her into federal office.
Although this Rally has made some headlines and drawn some attention it is far from the first go around for the Pro-2A community within our state. Over the past year the call has gone out through several grass roots organizations whenever there is a potential bill that is being presented further restricting our rights. Each time the General Assembly is in session we generally get approximately 1-week notice on proposed bills that are on the agenda for either committee or a chamber vote. This is when our local grass roots organizations rally the troops to get a good show or support (or in most cases dissent) for the proposed bill.
Historically this is when the Anti-Gunners also are in the building. The Red shirts of “Moms”, and orange shirts of “Everytown” (both Bloomberg funded) are always in attendance. That said in every case I can remember the yellow shirted pro 2A community out numbers the antis by numbers of 2000 to 40 or like totals. In the past almost every bill that has come up has been “tabled for further study” following the overwhelming testimony and demonstration of dissent from the large crowd of 2A supporters. The one glaring outlier was the passage of the “Red Flag” laws that passed here in Rhode Island last year. This law, as most of its type proposed throughout the country bypasses due process, leaving the accused to prove his innocence to charges and accuser he is unable to face. Even the ACLU has voiced their opposition to and filed against this law here in Rhode Island.
In one important difference that puts the 2A supports on the back foot is $$$. The Bloomberg supported Antis have full time paid lobbyists at the State House and are present their daily. Ironically most of the antis are not even Rhode Islanders, but are from New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. They have significantly more access to our elected officials than our Pro 2A community who is exclusively from Rhode Island. There are registered lobbyists that are Pro 2A and are funded mainly by the same grass roots organizations that get the word out for the rallies. Sadly, I have seen little to no support from the NRA, unless they are calling me asking for money. Even with our numbers at specific events, with most of our support being both volunteer and locally funded, the Antis end up having a much bigger presence in our State politics than is proportionate.
Our Governor hosts press conferences of 100-150 people with Moms and Everytown as guests as she proposes new laws that effect law abiding gun-owners but do nothing to address the criminals that are responsible for the violence. Compared to this kind of access to our highest Executive, our Pro 2A rallies draws 10+ times the number of attendees yet have almost no access to or attention from the Governor. The answer for her as well as for the majority of the General Assembly is MORE LAWS. It is nearly impossible to get them to acknowledge the laws already on the books, or the fact that they are not being followed.
Here in RI we have what most of the Antis scream for…..Universal Background checks. I cannot transfer a gun to my son or daughter without completing a 4473 (Federal NICS check) and a background check with my local PD (part of the 7 day wait for a gun purchase). With this in place no one that is a felon should have access to a firearm, legally at least. Unfortunately if you look at the FBI table of active records in the NICS system, through December 31, 2019 the State of RI has 0, that’s right 0 felonies reported to the system. Rhode Island is far from alone in this.
As the General Assembly has returned to session in 2020, they have once again posted a list of proposed anti-gun bills. Many of these proposed bills are just rehashes of bills from previous sessions, often with just slight additions or subtractions to them. These include:
-“Assault Weapons” Ban
-Ban on any gun that can accept a magazine over 10- rounds
-Semi Automatic Ban
-“Ghost Gun” Ban (3d printed and 80%)
-Expanded Red Flag
-Elimination of CCW licensing
It is great that there is finally some new attention being brought to Lil Rhody from the national audience. The exceptional attendance and attention that was drawn as a result of the behaviors of our Governors and elected officials that was displayed in Virginia was very heartening to see. To have 22,000+ people from all areas of the country show up in support of the 2A community and against the tyrannical behavior of the current administration was great. That said, the issues faced by those in Virginia may be new to them, but that is everyday day life for us here in Rhode Island. We already have many of the onerous laws that the people of Virginia are fighting against and our constitutional rights are regularly under assault.
This Pro 2A rally is the first for us in 2020, but sadly we here in Rhode Island have already been through this many times before. We will also need to be prepared to do it again and again throughout the year! Following the success and attention to Virginia we are starting to get more support from other areas of the country. Approximately 130-140 people from Virginia are coming north to help us. This will be really the first time that it hasn’t been just organic Rhode Islanders. Let’s hope that this continues to grow!
I will post Part 2, The Rally in the coming days.
Chris is an owner of a Marine Manufacturing Company in Rhode Island where he has lived much of his life. In addition to his company he works as a gunsmith for several local shops and as an armorer and trainer for the regional LEO community. He is a self-professed training junkie who attends classes throughout the year in various parts of the country in a wide range of disciplines.