EXETER – Following a request made by Rhode Island State Senator Elaine Morgan that towns declare themselves “Second Amendment Sanctuaries,” the Exeter Town Council will be taking up the issue at its next meeting, where a discussion and possible vote on a resolution will take place.
Last week, Morgan–whose district includes Hopkinton, Charlestown, Richmond, West Greenwich and Exeter–sent letters to the councils and police chiefs in the towns she represents, urging them to make the declaration that police departments have the right to “exercise sound discretion when enforcing laws impacting the rights of citizens under the second amendment.”
She also said that the resolution would give towns the opportunity to maintain their “freedom and constitutional rights” by “enforcing legislation currently on the books.”
The call for towns to make the declaration stems from a recent resolution adopted by the Burrillville Town Council stating that the town was officially a “Second Amendment Sanctuary.”
In her letter, Morgan outlined why she was asking the towns that she represents to do the same, adding that the resolution would ensure that any future gun-control laws that “infringe upon the constitutional right to keep and bear arms” would not be enforced.
“I swore an oath when taking office to protect and uphold our Constitution from any infringements. It is with substantial consideration that I bring forth this matter of discussion based on stabilizing our jurisdictions’ ability to uphold and defend our second amendment rights,” Morgan wrote. “An abundance of states, counties, cities and towns across the United States have declared themselves ‘Second Amendment Sanctuaries,’ which means any gun-control laws that infringe upon the constitutional right to keep and bear arms will not be enforced.”
She went on to say that, between 2014 and 2017, Rhode Island maintained a position in the top five least likely states to be injured by a firearm, with death resulting.
“Considering this movement, I humbly ask the towns of Charlestown, Richmond, Hopkinton, West Greenwich and Exeter for the support of our local police departments and town council members in proposing a similar resolution as that of Burrillville,” Morgan continued. “It is imperative that these five historic towns as well as our local police departments and town council members work together in preserving and maintaining our freedom and constitutional rights.”
Shortly after Morgan sent her letter, the Hopkinton Town Council voted to adopt a resolution declaring the town a sanctuary for gun owners, while the Richmond Town Council is set to consider a similar resolution.
And now, the Exeter Town Council is gearing up to consider a resolution of its own.
Exeter Councilor Dan Patterson, who made the request that consideration of a resolution be added to next month’s meeting agenda, said he did so based on conversations he has had on the topic with several residents. He also said he would be writing the resolution himself.
“I've had numerous emails, phone calls and residents stopping by asking for a resolution in Exeter. I will be writing one in the next day or two,” he said on Monday. “It will be placed on the monthly meeting in June under new business for a vote.”
Exeter Council President Cal Ellis said that while he was “willing to listen” and participate in a discussion about the resolution, he also pointed out that, because the town didn’t have its own police department, Exeter was in a different position than other surrounding towns.
“I’m willing to listen,” Ellis said. “I think that Exeter is in a unique position because we don’t have our own police department, we rely on the state police to help us and respond to us. And I think it puts us in a different place than other communities up and down the western border of the state.”
“That isn’t to say we won’t consider it,” he continued, adding, “I’m honestly not sure what legislation is being proposed but, I believe that if it becomes law then there is some obligation for us to support it.”
He also said that whatever resolutions or legislations considered by the council would primarily be “symbolic.”
“From what I understand is that it’s a symbolic statement,” Ellis said. “Most who support this resolution don’t want to see anything change–and if it does change, they’re asking law enforcement to use their discretion. I’m not sure what that implies but I know from what I’ve read and other comments made that it’s symbolic.”
The Exeter Town Council will discuss and consider adopting a resolution declaring the town a Second Amendment Sanctuary at its next meeting on June 3.