RF’s former home state recently took a step toward a little more freedom for its residents. The Providence Journal reports that the Supreme Court of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations rejected East Providence’s denial of a concealed carry license application because the former police chief exercised too much “unfetterted discretion”. The case is Gadomski v. Tavares . . .
Norman Gadonski is a Rhode Island resident and NRA firearms instructor who applied to the police of the City of East Providence for a license to carry a concealed weapon. Gadonski wanted a license because he works as a diesel technician at night, handling cash and expensive tools. He also does a bit of camping, biking, and hiking alone, and wanted to tool up just as a precaution. Getting a Rhode Island license would also allow him to apply for a Massachusetts license, enabling him to join a nearby Massachusetts gun club for practice.
As the Rhode Island Court describes in its decision, Gadonski had a little bit of a record, but nothing that made him a prohibited person:
In response to a question in the application asking if the applicant had ever been arrested, petitioner replied in the affirmative, and attached his Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) report from Massachusetts. The CORI report indicated that petitioner had been arraigned on misdemeanor charges twice as an adult. The first charge was for possession of alcohol by a minor, which was dismissed with a payment into the Victim-Witness Fund and court costs. The second charge was for destruction of property. Initially, a continuance without a finding was entered, and then later the charge was dismissed, again with a payment into the Victim-Witness Fund and court costs.
Gadonski was then interviewed by East Providence’s then-Chief of Police, Joseph Tavares and…well, pretty much nothing happened. A month later, Gadonski sent a letter to the chief asking what happened to his application, and received no response. He sent a second letter, containing copies of his Utah Concealed Firearms Permit and his Curious & Relics Federal Firearms License to no avail. Nearly a year later, the Chief got round to sending Gadonski a letter officially denying his application:
“This letter will serve as official noticed [sic] that your application for license to carry a concealable weapon has been denied. Your disqualification was based upon the fact that you failed to show good reason to fear an injury to yourself or property. You failed to show a proper reason for carrying a pistol or revolver that would allow me to issue you a license to carry a concealable firearm.
“Based upon the above mentioned reasons, coupled with the fact that you have previously engaged in criminal behavior that resulted in your arrest, I do not find you, at this time, a suitable person to be issued a license to carry a concealable weapon.”
The Court explained that while discretion was allowed in the Rhode Island regulatory scheme, the “key discretionary component” was whether or not the applicant met the “suitability” requirement of Rhode Island firearms law (G.L. 1956 § 11-47-11, specifically.) As a result, the Court, was not impressed with Chief Tavares’ letter:
A local licensing authority need not write a decision rivaling War and Peace in length, but its decision must still address the salient reasoning for the denial of a license….
The statements that Gadomski failed to show a good reason to fear injury and failed to show a proper reason for carrying a pistol or revolver are nothing “more than the recital of a litany.” Such bare, rote conclusions are insufficient.
(Citations and footnotes omitted)
The Court then ordered East Providence to “issue a new decision on the petitioner’s application not inconsistent with this opinion.”
The Journal reports that Christopher Parella, who took over as Chief of Police after the resignation of Tavares last year, has ninety days to issue a new decision on Gadonski’s application.
“Just as the court ordered, I, as police chief, will look at this application in a vacuum,” Parella said. “If it’s in compliance, then he will get his permit. I’m not going to put any thought to him having applied before.”
Chief Parella has issued thirteen permits since taking over the job last July, and currently has five other applications pending. A rather significant change from his predecessors — as the Court noted in its decision, no licenses had been issued by East Providence in the ten year period leading up to 2012.
Congratulations to Mr. Gadonski for standing up for his rights. And good luck on that whole Massachusetts application.
(Hat tip: Shall Not Be Questioned).
DISCLAIMER: The above is an opinion piece; it is not legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship in any sense. If you need legal advice in any matter, you are strongly urged to hire and consult your own counsel. This post is entirely my own, and does not represent the positions, opinions, or strategies of my firm or clients.