Providence, RI - Representative Sherry Roberts, (R-Dist. 29, Coventry, West Greenwich) aims to reform Rhode Island’s lax explosives laws after a recent bomb scare in West Greenwich.
In April a homemade bomb was discovered in the woods near Hopkins Hill Road in West Greenwich. It was built using a pressure cooker, in a similar fashion to those used during the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. No injuries were reported and police quickly tracked the suspected bomb makers to East Greenwich, but the situation has raised concerns about Rhode Island’s explosives laws.
Some law enforcement officials have expressed frustration with Rhode Island’s out-of-date explosives laws, which have impeded the investigation. Officials claim that because most statutes regarding explosives do not go far enough to protect the public, as they were written before the age of terrorism we know today.
Rep. Roberts was deeply troubled by these allegations, saying: “I know the damage that could have been done to our community if the bomb was detonated. We have seen the devastation these devices can cause when terrorists use them. The thought of something like that happening in our community worries me. Now, to learn that Rhode Island’s explosives laws may not prevent these sort of incidents from happening is disturbing.”
“In light of this incident, I have co-sponsored legislation introduced by the Speaker of the House to fix the loopholes that could prevent law enforcement from bringing these people to justice. I am prepared to do whatever I can to keep Rhode Islanders safe from those who seek to terrorize our communities and hope that my fellow legislators will do the same,” stated Rep. Roberts.
The bill (2018-H 8156) would expand the state’s explosives law to prohibit improvised explosive devices (IEDs) like the pressure cooker bomb found in West Greenwich. In addition, it would also allow police to charge someone in possession of bomb making materials, which is not a crime under the current statute. This was carefully written to allow citizens to possess “readily converted” components because many are everyday objects with lawful uses.