PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — R.I. Attorney General Peter Neronha issued guidance Tuesday advising that the state’s current concealed-carry gun permitting process is constitutional.
The guidance comes in the wake of a 6-3 U.S. Supreme Court decision in June, which struck down a New York law limiting guns in public and curbed government officials’ control over the issuing of gun licenses.
“We determined that because of the dual nature of our licensing scheme, which appears to be unique in the holding of the Supreme Court itself, that there’s nothing in Rhode Island that needs to change,” Neronha said.
If the only way for someone to get a concealed-carry license is to show need, Neronha said, then your state has a problem. But he says that’s not the case in Rhode Island.
“Rhode Island has a licensing scheme where you don’t have to show need if you get a license from your municipal authority, typically your police chief,” he said.
The other way to get a permit is to apply to the attorney general’s office, which requires someone to show why they need the permit. The AG’s permit is unique in that it allows someone to carry a pistol out in the open, as opposed to concealed.
Neronha said the state’s dual-permit framework is consistent with the Supreme Court’s decision.
“The Supreme Court actually put us in the category with 43 states that they did not observe to be problematic,” he said.
Frank Saccoccio, president of the R.I. National Rifle Association, told Target 12: “I believe the attorney general is 100% wrong on this.”
He said there are multiple related cases pending before the R.I. Supreme Court.
Target 12 obtained the AG office’s data for concealed-carry permit applications. There were 49 applications in June, the highest so far this year. Since January 2019, the attorney general’s office has processed more than 1,700 pistol permit applications. The state has denied 186, or 11% of all applications.
Neronha said he’s not sure if his guidance will be challenged in court. “I’m confident, though, that our analysis is correct,” he said.
The AG’s office also shared new guidance with police departments across the state, writing that “any denial must state the factual basis for the denial …. In other words, you must state the reason for the denial and the facts in the record that support the reason.”