House OKs Knight bill to prevent young people with violent criminal background from purchasing guns


STATE HOUSE – The House of Representatives today approved legislation sponsored by Rep. Jason Knight to help prevent young people with violent criminal histories from purchasing firearms.

The legislation (2024-H 8154aa) would make juvenile criminal history records available to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) — used to determine eligibility for firearms purchases in Rhode Island and many other states — for background checks on individuals younger than 21. The bill now goes to the Senate.

“Many of the individuals who were responsible for mass shootings are young people who have recently purchased the weapons they used. Ensuring that the database has all disqualifying criminal background is essential to keeping prohibited individuals from being able to legally purchase lethal weapons,” said Representative Knight (D-Dist. 67, Barrington, Warren). “While there is value to our laws that seal juvenile records, keeping that information out of the NICS database is a danger to the public. This legislation closes the gap in that information to ensure that NICS is an effective tool in helping to protect public safety.”

Under the bill, juvenile records from Family Court would remain sealed from public view, but would be submitted to the NICS database solely for background checks conducted on individuals under 21 years old. The NICS database is not available to the general public, and when firearms dealers submit requests to it, the only information they receive is whether or not they can proceed with the sale to that individual — not any specific criminal history.

The legislation is cosponsored by Rep. Justine A. Caldwell (D-Dist. 30, East Greenwich, West Greenwich), Rep. Jennifer Boylan (D-Dist. 66, Barrington, East Providence), Rep. Terri Cortvriend (D-Dist. 72, Portsmouth, Middletown), Rep. Susan R. Donovan (D-Dist. 69, Bristol, Portsmouth), Rep. Teresa A. Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, South Kingstown, Narragansett), Rep. June S. Speakman (D-Dist. 68, Warren, Bristol), House Majority Whip Katherine S. Kazarian (D-Dist. 63, East Providence, Pawtucket), Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee (D-Dist. 33, South Kingstown, Narragansett) and Rep. Robert E. Craven (D-Dist. 32, North Kingstown).



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