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 May 15, 2005
Domestic Violence Bill Could Be Law By End of Year
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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -- Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee said a bill that would make it easier for judges to take guns from alleged domestic abusers appears likely to pass this year. For several years now, members of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence and their supporters have been pushing for the legislation.
   The Senate committee did not vote on the measure Tuesday, but most members indicated their support for the revised proposal. The coalition originally wanted a mandate that people surrender or sell their guns if they are subject to permanent restraining orders in domestic violence cases, but has included some compromises in its proposal.
   Now the legislation allows judges discretion to order that guns be surrendered, The Providence Journal reported. Originally, the coalition proposed an exemption only for police officers, but now would exempt anyone "required by employment to carry a firearm in the performance of their duties." The exemption applies only to the work day, specifies the gun must be left at work, and still requires all personal guns be turned in.
   In addition to allowing surrendered guns to be sold or stored with the police, and capping those storage fees, the latest proposal is to also allow a person to give his or her guns to anyone legally permitted to own a firearm who is not a relative.
   The bill drew support from the attorney general, Rhode Island Police Chiefs Association, state police, state Family Court, and a variety of advocacy groups. But some groups remain hesitant. Donn DiBiasio, of the NRA-affiliated Rhode Island State Rifle and Revolver Association, called said the bill is approaching something his group could agree to, but said the language still needs work because the guns used by armored-car drivers and security guards may be their personal guns, not ones provided by an employer.
   DiBiasio also questioned why someone couldn't give a gun to a family member for storage, as long as that person lived in a different place. Senate President Joseph Montalbano, D-North Providence, has pledged to steer the legislation through the chamber this year.

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