House Hearings Scheduled on H6160

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.

  • Roger Swann

    I disagree with the alternative for Exeter residents becoming the AG. If you read the changes in the proposed bill, the language states, “in towns where there is no chief of police or superintendent of police, it also means any other person or body duly authorized by the city or town charter or by state law.”
    So this is very simple, the Exeter Town Council needs to choose by charter amendment the body they desire to issue permits, or the GA can dictate by state law who issues permits. It really doesn’t matter which of these bodies does the picking, but this needs to be done before the bill is passed. If neither body desires to choose, then the stage would be set for a legal directive.
    Don’t go down the path of the only alternative is the AG, this is exactly what Exeter would like you to think. The change in this definition does not alleviate the responsibility of the town issuing authority, as defined above, to accept and process applications.