STATE HOUSE — The General Assembly today approved legislation to require gun dealers to notify the police in a gun buyer’s hometown in addition to the police department of the town where the gun was purchased.
The Julie Lynn Cardinal Act (2020-H 7103Baa, 2020-S 2154Aaa), sponsored by Rep. Daniel P. McKiernan (D-Dist. 7, Providence) and Senate Minority Leader Dennis L. Algiere (R-Dist. 38, Charlestown, South Kingstown, Westerly), would require gun sellers to forward firearm applications to the police department of the city or town where the buyer resides, or the State Police if the purchaser resides outside Rhode Island or in the town of Exeter, which lacks a municipal police department.
The bill is named for the victim who perished in a shooting in Westerly last year where a resident purchased a gun from a firearms dealer in Richmond. Although Richmond Police conducted background checks, they were not aware that the buyer had a history with Westerly Police, including threats to buy a gun to kill himself and his estranged wife, which led to a stay at Butler Hospital. In addition to killing Cardinal, who was the manager of the affordable housing complex where the gunman lived, the shooter wounded another manager and a resident before fatally shooting himself.
“This is a simple matter of improving communication between law enforcement agencies,” said Representative McKiernan. “Local police departments are much more likely to have information regarding the mental health of a potential gun buyer. If there are concerns for the safety of the purchaser or others, then the police in the gun buyer’s community can take steps to keep the other agencies notified and potentially avert another tragedy.”
The measure now moves to the governor’s office.