PROVIDENCE—Rep. Larry Valencia (Dist. 39—Richmond, Exeter, Hopkinton) presented the latest version of House Bill 6160 to the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, legislation which would remove the town clerk in Exeter from being responsible for approving concealed weapons permits to residents.
The legislation, introduced by Valencia at the behest of the current Exeter Town Council, has angered many town residents who feel that the law should remain as it stands. The bill would call for the Attorney General’s Office, in absence of a police chief, a licensing authority would be ‘any other person or body duly authorized by the city or town charter or by state law.’
“The law for the issuing of carried permits in Rhode Island was written many years ago, and it was worded along the lines of any police chief may issue a permit,” said Valencia at an Exeter Town Council meeting earlier this year. “In the event there was no police chief, it would fall to the town clerk with the advice and consent of the town sergeant.”
“That is how the law stands today, but the problem is all these rural towns that didn’t have a police chief have disappeared one by one,” he added. “Now we are down to Exeter.”
The current situation stems from the previous town council’s desire to review concealed weapons permitting practice in Exeter, which is currently done by the town clerk and town sergeant. Constituents have since expressed support and opposition to changing the town’s permitting procedure, and some have stated that changing the law would be a violation of the Second Amendment.