By PAUL J. SPETRINI
EXETERâ€”The continuing debate over whether or not the town clerk of Exeter should be required to hand out gun permits reached a new level Monday night as the Exeter Town Council voted, 3-2, to pass a resolution on to state legislators asking Rhode Island to revise its current law and grant Exeter an exception.
The controversy, which has been under discussion for some months at recent council meetings, came about because Exeter is the only town in Rhode Island without a police department and, as such, is required under current state law to pass out permits through the clerkâ€™s office.
Town Council members Dan Patterson and Raymond Morrissey, who voted against the resolution Monday night, have both said in prior meetings and on Monday night that they feel state law is clear on the matter and believe that the townâ€™s refusal to follow the law as is puts local residents at a disadvantage when they want to exercise their legal right to own a gun.
â€śI believe this resolution will take away another right of the citizen that they have to carry such a permit,â€ť Morrissey said. â€śWeâ€™re taking means away from our townfolk. Just because we donâ€™t have a police department, they have to suffer. I feel weâ€™re taking rights away from citizens who want to apply for such permits.â€ť
In arguing in favor of the resolution, council member William Monahan reiterated that he feels the town clerk does not have adequate access to the information she needs in order to perform â€śproper background checksâ€ť.
The resolution passed after a brief discussion in which both sides slightly altered some of the language in the proposal. From here, Council President Arlene Hicks said, itâ€™s up to the state legislators to decide whatâ€™s next.
In other news Monday, the council approved four datesâ€”May 12, June 16, Sept. 22 and Oct. 13â€”for the Southern New England Truck Pullers Association to host their annual truck pull in town.
In addition, the council decided to review the townâ€™s outdoor entertainment ordinance to see what changes, if any, need to be made.
The council will be back in session Monday at 6:30 p.m. in a joint meeting with representatives from the Borderlands Village Innovation Project to discuss the Vision of Exeter project.