In case you didn’t read my last post, the Valencia anti-concealed carry bill is back. Rep. Valencia represents part of Exeter, and he is working with the Town Council to pass legislation that would send Exeter’s concealed carry permit applications to the AG, rather than have them processed by the town sergeant and clerk.
“Why does this matter to me?” This would be a terrible precedent setting law that would allow all towns to eventually, should they choose to do so, send their permit applications to the AG. That would be bad for you because the rules for permitting are different for the towns and for the AG.
In Rhode Island, town police departments, and in the case of Exeter the town clerk and sergeant, operate under law that makes them “shall issue” authorities. In theory this means that they should issue concealed carry permits to anyone who passes the qualification test and hasn’t negatively affected their own rights by becoming a felon, or isn’t a danger to society due to some mental issue that manifests itself in a violent way. In other words, if you’re not violently insane or a criminal, you should get a permit. In practice, as many Rhode Islanders know, this isn’t how the permitting works. But that’s a story for another time.
The AG, on the other hand, is bound by a “may issue” requirement. In other words, the AG may issue you a permit if the AG thinks you should get one. This explicitly subjective means of permitting has led to abuses in the past, and (in my editorial opinion) puts to much power in the hands of one person.
But this isn’t limited to Exeter. If you attended the recent House hearings on the various gun control bills, you probably saw a number of the state’s police chiefs complaining about having to do their duty and issue permits at the town level. They said they didn’t want the liability. The normal arguments I’ve heard from the chiefs is that they are afraid of getting sued if they don’t issue, and are afraid of getting sued if they issue to some one who ultimately commits a crime. The great people at CRAL RI can fill you in on why that’s a bunch of bunk.
So what do you need to do? H6160 is scheduled for a hearing on Tuesday June 4th at around 4:30pm. If you care about your rights, show up, sign up, testify against the bill and make your voice heard. Read the bill here. Find out how to contact Rep. Valencia here to (politely, of course) let him know you oppose this legislation.