To the editor:
To my constituents in District 71:
I would like to thank all those residents of District 71 who have taken the time to contact me to express their opinion on legislation that has been introduced regarding registration of guns in Rhode Island.
The legislation, as you may know, would require all gun owners to register their weapons with their local police or the state police, pay a fee for each gun, and allow the police to keep copies of applications for gun purchases sent to them for background checks. Failure to abide by those provisions could result in a fine and/or prison term.
I want to acknowledge that I do not question the sincerity of the bill sponsor, or the desire on the sponsor’s part to address the serious problem of gun violence in our nation.
However, I cannot support this legislation. While I believe it was filed in an earnest attempt to do the right thing, I feel it does it in the wrong way.
Historically, changes to our Bill of Rights have been made to extend freedoms to the American people. More gun control, I believe, will only impact law-abiding citizens, not those who possess guns illegally or who use them for criminal purposes. I believe that controls such as those proposed in the bill would set the wrong kind of precedent, serving only to punish the innocent majority of gun owners due to the actions of a criminal few. Further control of this kind could turn us into a society where truth and justice no longer prevail.
We must take a common-sense approach to addressing violent crimes involving guns, rather than a knee-jerk reaction. We need to make certain that when we address what is clearly a serious issue, we do it reasonably and rationally and in a manner that doesn’t trample all over our citizens’ Second Amendment rights.
As legislators, we all took an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. We need to come together to address gun violence, but we need to do it in a way that solves the core problem without undermining individual rights.
Rep. Dennis M. Canario
District 71 — Portsmouth, Little Compton, Tiverton