How is it that we now live in a society where mass shootings are commonplace and we are desensitized enough to see it as an unavoidable reality in our daily lives? Remarkably, it has sadly been a common news story since April of 1999, when a community in the mountain hills of Colorado was forever changed with the senseless, brutal slaughter at Columbine High School. Twelve students and one teacher were killed that pivotal day and a trauma wave has since rippled through our daily American consciousness. Today more than twenty years later there have been only reactionary administrative changes to keep not only our students and faculty safe, but also common public places such as supermarkets, parades, and outdoor venues secure from gun violence.

After that dark day in 1999, my cousin Molly, who lives just a town over from Columbine, CO, decided to give her four children cell phones at a ridiculously young age. Why? Because she was convinced that they may need to call her if another shooting occurred. Another cousin who lives in Las Vegas has a colleague who was an EMT and first responder at the 2017 Route 91 Harvest Festival concert massacre where 59 people were murdered and more than 400 people were injured. While her friend’s EMT training had prepared her for typical festival type mishaps, she was ill-equipped to triage battle wound injuries from high capacity weapons. She witnessed a woman who had been shot in the head by multiple rounds, bleeding out on the field with her husband helplessly crouched beside her holding her hand. This is a scene of mayhem that no civilian should ever experience; witnessing such carnage never leaves you. That EMT has since sought therapy for depression and anxiety. These are just two examples of how our reality and liberty to go about our days has been infringed upon. Why shouldn’t our laws be representative for the civil liberties of all people? While Second Amendment zealots will say it is their right to carry weapons of war, how did this perceived right become justifiable? Our forefathers, while taking time to pack and reload their muskets, could never have envisioned the destruction of military style high-capacity magazine weapons that kill and mutilate multiple targets in just seconds. Our technology has changed. Our reality and behaviors have changed; our policies and legislation have yet to catch up. It is time to act, not react.

My name is Melissa Devine, and as a Moms Demand Action candidate of distinction, I know we can do better for our community. Sensible gun legislation along with other impactful issues is why I have decided to run for the General Assembly, House District 31-North Kingstown-Exeter. I will work to legislate in favor of the following:

  • Sensible Gun Legislation: Gun violence and active shooter drills should not be what is on a parent’s mind when they send their kids to school. As your Representative, I will continue to work on bills that protect the rights of all kids and faculty to create a safe environment in which they can focus and thrive.
  • Environmental and Climate Issues: Environmental factors are already affecting everything in our state from clean air, to healthy vegetation on our property, to the temperature of Narragansett Bay. Our good health and our property values are being affected as sea level rise and inland flooding are encroaching upon our existing real estate, roads and bridges. We also need to limit single use plastic, examine PFAS (human-made chemicals) in our water supply, and create a bottle bill with convenient redemption locations.
  • Protection of Women’s Rights: I support the fundamental rights of women and girls to control their own bodies as well as comprehensive reproductive health care. I passionately advocated at the State House to ensure the Woman’s Reproductive Privacy Act bill was codified into Rhode Island law in 2019. As a member of the legislature, I will continue to fight to keep these rights in place for all women and girls.
  • Affordable and Sensible Elder Care: As the primary caregiver for both of my parents, I’ve experienced first-hand the challenges facing seniors who want to age in place. I’ll work to promote awareness of home modification options and elder protections. I understand the significant role that access to affordable and accessible public transportation plays for many seniors to obtain health care and daily services.
  • Strong Public Schools: Our children represent our future. I will advocate for better support for our schools, the foundation of our community. Given the major challenges and events of the last few years, it’s clear that advocating for mental health resources and funding for our schools should be a priority. As an NKHS graduate, I believe in funding public education and working with the Rhode Island Department of Education to streamline resources and budget.

Join me at the polls on Tuesday, September 13. Visit and click on “Find a Polling Place” for your specific location.

Early voting at the town offices begins August 24.

For more information about my campaign go to:

The author is a candidate for State Representative in District 31 (North Kingstown and Exeter).

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