Providence Journal: R.I. federal judge upholds Bristol's concealed weapons policy

Author: Katie Mulvaney

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- A federal judge Thursday ruled that the Town of Bristol's concealed weapon permitting policy requiring applicants to show a true safety need does not infringe on a resident's Second Amendment rights. 

Jarren R. Gendreau, then 25, had challenged Bristol Police Chief Josue D. Canario's denial of his application for a permit to carry a concealed gun. He argued that the policy requiring a person to show a need to carry a concealed gun in self defense violated the Second Amendment, state law and the state Constitution. 

In ruling Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge John J. McConnell Jr. struck down Gendreau's arguments under the U.S. Constitution, but declined to take up the state law claims as the matter has already been decided by the state Supreme Court. 

"[The] Town of Bristol's policy does not limit an individual's right to possess handguns in the home; it is only concerned with possession and use in the public sphere ..." McConnell wrote. "Bristol's law conditioning permits for concealed weapons on a showing of need is well within the cadre of permissible `public welfare regulations aimed at addressing perceived inherent dangers and risks surrounding the public possession of loaded, operable firearms.'" 

Gendreau in 2012 applied for a permit, citing his need to protect himself while transporting his $4,000 and growing gun collection to the target range each week. He described himself as an avid gun collector.

Further, Gendreau said he sometimes deposits more than $10,000 at a time for his father, who owns an apartment complex and curtain store in Fall River, and would like to protect himself. 

Gendreau also referenced his effort to get a job in the security industry in Massachusetts, asserting that having a permit  in Rhode Island would enable him to get a permit in Massachusetts.

The town's review board held a hearing during which one member asked Gendreau to specify when he would draw a weapon, his lawsuit said. "Well, I'd never draw a weapon unless one, I can't retreat; two, I feel my life is threatened and in immediate physical harm and three, the fear I'm going to be killed," he responded. "There is no other reason to draw a weapon, no brandishing, it's all bad, unless you can't run and you fear for your life and that you're going to die."

The board recommended that Canario deny the permit. The chief did so, saying that he he didn't feel like he met the criteria under state law.  

Rhode Island law dictates that authorities in any city or town "shall" issue a license or permit to carry a loaded handgun to a person 21 or older "if it appears that the applicant has good reason to fear an injury to his or her person or property or has any other proper reason for carrying a pistol or revolver, and that he or she is a suitable person to be so licensed."

Gendreau sought a state Supreme Court review. The high court in 2013 ordered the police chief to render a new decision that detailed his reasons for the denial.

Canario again denied Gendreau's permit, naming as reasons that Gendreau gave no testimony that he had "good reason to fear an injury to 'your' person or property."

"Your testimony does not allow me to find that you had a 'good reason' to fear such an injury," Canario wrote.

The case has gotten financial support from the Citizens' Rights Action League and the Rhode Island Firearm Owners' League, he said.

Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.