A local legislator has been appointed to a state gun safety task force, state Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed announced this week.
Sen. Christopher Ottiano [R-Portsmouth, Bristol] is one of 20 members to the new panel, whose stated goal is "to balance firearms safety and behavioral health," and potentially offer new guidelines for gun ownership by people with diagnosed mental illness, according to a statement released Sept. 18.
Approved by the General Assembly this past summer and signed by Gov. Lincoln Chafee in July, the task force also includes mental health professionals, law enforcement officials, and members of the Federated Rhode Island Sportsmen’s Club.
The state's participation in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System is among the issues to be reviewed by the panel. Rhode Island currently requires NICS reviews for all gun sales, but does not provide mental health or substance abuse information to the system.
Under the original legislation, the group had a Jan. 1, 2014 deadline to present recommendations to the governor; it's expected that the timeframe will be extended to allow more time for the group to work on the issue.