H6160: Rep. Larry Valencia at it Again

Deja vu? Here we go again. Rep. Larry Valencia has introduced H6160, a bill that would eliminate language in Rhode Island gun law that requires towns without police departments to issue concealed carry permits through their town clerks and sargeants. As far as we know, this only applies to Exeter currently, but could become par for the course in smaller towns if they decide their police forces are too much of an expense.

The bill changes language in 11-47-2 that defines licensing authorities as:

(5) “Licensing authorities” means the board of police commissioners of a city or town where the board has been instituted, the chief of police or superintendent of police of other cities and towns having a regular organized police force, and, in towns where there is no chief of police or superintendent of police, it means the town clerk who may issue licenses upon the recommendation of the town sergeant, and it also means any other person or body duly authorized by the city or town charter or by state law.

The bill sponsored by Rep. Valencia would eliminate the words “the town clerk who may issue licenses upon the recommendation of the town sergeant, and it also means.”

This is what Rep. Valencia looks like. If you see him on the street or at the State House, let him know you're against H6160.

This is what Rep. Valencia looks like. If you see him on the street or at the State House, let him know you’re against H6160.

If you’re new to the site or haven’t been paying attention for the last few months, the result of this language change would be to force Exeter residents, and residents from any other towns that could ultimately adopt this standard to go to the Attorney General’s office for their concealed carry permits. Again, if you’re a regular reader you likely know that the threshold for granting concealed carry permits is different at the town and state levels. Currently at the town level, Rhode Island operates under a “shall issue” mandate, which in a normal state would mean that those applicants not disqualified by some predefined negative conditions should be given concealed carry permits with no hassle. Putting aside for now how that is currently handled in Rhode Island, the threshold at the Attorney General’s office is governed by a “may issue” mandate. This gives the Attorney General a much more subjective role in determining whether or not applicants are given permits.

We heard at the hearings at the State House that the AG’s office grants somewhere near 85% of applicants (that number may be off slightly) concealed carry permits without denial. OK, fine. Now I want to be clear that what I’m about to tell you is based on unscientific anecdotal evidence gathered by me from talking to folks here in the state. I have no way to verify what I am about to tell you, and you can feel free to chime in down below in the comments section. I think that rate is a bit hazy. The first thing I have heard from people is that before being officially denied, some applicants are told they will not make it through and it is suggested that they pull their application rather than being denied.

Additionally, I have been told that a substantial portion of the applicants that remain in the queue are denied on their first attempt, forcing them to appeal. I have been told that the appeals process, for those who attempt it oftentimes will yield a success. But if those anecdotes are true, this 85% rate is somewhat pie-in-the-sky talk. Obviously if people are pushed out without a formal denial the official approval rate will be inflated. And if Rhode Islanders are forced through an appeals process to receive permits, that’s a substantial infringement upon their rights to self defense in my opinion.

Again, this is anecdotal evidence. If Politifact wants to check it out, I would be happy to see their results, but please don’t say my pants are on fire, I’ve made it quite clear that this last couple paragraphs is based on what I have been told, not on hard data. If those data exist, let’s pull them out and find out if this is true. If not, I’m happy the true rate of denial is so low, but if these rumors are correct, Politifact should be handing out the Pants on Fire to the AG’s office, not me.

Either way, whether or not the rate of approval is high is meaningless. If a citizen with no negatively affecting characteristics wants concealed carry, they should be issued such a permit on site immediately as far as I’m concerned. That’s what “shall issue” is supposed to mean at its heart.

As for Rep. Larry Valencia, please register your disapproval with him via his e-mail address: rep-valencia@rilin.state.us .

Tell Rep. Valencia that you prefer having access to “shall issue” concealed carry permits at the town level, and that state control of the concealed carry process is something you’re against.