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
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
The measure now moves to the governor’s office.