By BRENDA JACOB When you hear about guns it is generally in the news and involves a horrific crime or tragedy. No one is against gun violence more than a gun owner. First is the sadness we feel for the families living through a tragedy, watching the
When you hear about guns it is generally in the news and involves a horrific crime or tragedy. No one is against gun violence more than a gun owner. First is the sadness we feel for the families living through a tragedy, watching the relentless victimization by the anti-gun movement of the victim and families using them to further their agenda, then comes the onslaught of finger pointing and rhetoric blaming the gun owners for a crime they did not commit.
Countless hours and billions of dollars are spent each year in the name of “common sense” gun reform. This has become a full-time lucrative business for “advocacy” groups across the nation and Rhode Island is no exception. Over $1.3 million was funneled into Rhode Island in the past two years by Everytown, Bloomberg, Giffords PAC, Planned Parenthood and other elite millionaires committed to taking away guns under the guise of safety, for our own good.
Rhode Island ranks seventh in the nation for gun laws. We do not need more gun laws, we need enforcement in the courts. These laws are unconstitutional and will do nothing to stop criminals.
According to a public records request of Rhode Island Gun Court, only 209 cases were assigned in 2020, 161 cases were disposed. Court records show that most charges were plea bargained. Only two people were sentenced to more than 10 years.
There are harsher penalties suggested in the proposed legislation for law-abiding citizens than imposed on criminals. This legislation will result in empowering the criminals and punishing constituents. The minority communities will be the most adversely affected by the new offenses, as they are more likely to be charged with these offenses without the resources to defend themselves. Most violent criminals are repeat offenders.
Here is what is overlooked.
There are more gun owners in Rhode Island than people realize, and that number is growing. Over the past five years there have been 155,362 new firearms purchased in the state of Rhode Island, according to the FBI’s website. Forty percent were first-time buyers, 40 percent of the new buyers are women and 58 percent were African American. The Second Amendment does not discriminate against race, gender or diversity.
Gun owners are moms, dads, grandparents, brothers and sisters. They are all genders, ethnicities, rich, poor, from every city and town. We are hard workers, blue collar and white collar, retirees and veterans.
Gun owners are a valuable asset to Rhode Island. Millions of dollars come into Rhode Island generated by the 10-11 percent excise tax on firearms, ammo and accessories, which is federally matched. There at least 130 business in our state which are dependent on the firearms industry and which employ over 600 people, generating employment tax, sales tax, property, and fire tax revenue. Manufacturers, platers, gun stores, public ranges, sporting shops, preserves and tourism. A National Shooting Sports Foundation Study of 2019 found that gun owners in Rhode Island generated $134,871,000 into the local economy.
The money gun owners generate benefits all Rhode Islanders. The money funds land acquisitions, which has brought Rhode Island up to 60,000 acres of open space and 25 wildlife management areas that we all enjoy for hiking, bird watching, mountain biking, geocaching, horseback riding. There are 202 boat ramps that have been built for the benefit of anglers and boaters with the help of these funds. Many gun owners belong to gun clubs, which also have hundreds of acres of land. These clubs are committed to the environment and work with DEM and NRCS on conservation programs. According to a public records request submitted to DEM since 2018, $11,668,415 was spent on conservation programs such as Sea Duck population, wildlife restoration, coyote ecology, deer population monitoring, habitat protections, restoring wildlife habitat and aquatic mammal research, to name a few.
The firearm community is committed to our youth helping them to learn the importance of safety, responsibility and environmental stewardship while providing them with scholarships, internships and competitions including the Junior Olympic Championships.
I hope this brings awareness to the value of gun owners in Rhode Island.
Brenda Jacob is president of the Federated Rhode Island Sportsmen’s Club, secretary and lobbyist for the Rhode Island Revolver and Rifle Association, and president of the Ocean State Junior Rifle Association.