Rhode Island recall: Gun-rights battle could backfire on town leaders

by Mark Sappenfield | MinnPost  |  published on December 9, 2013

Call it a double whammy. Four town councilmembers in Exeter, R.I., not only failed in their bid to get the state to take over concealed-carry permitting for their town, but now they face a recall election Saturday because of it.

The story is a small-town version of the drama that played out in Colorado earlier this year, when two state senators behind a new gun-control law were recalled by angry voters in September. A third facing recall resigned last month.

The recalls speak to the motivation and fervor of gun-rights advocates nationwide, who feel as though they are under attack from President Obama. The backlash against gun control in red states and even rural areas of blue states, like Exeter, speaks to why Mr. Obama is unlikely to revive any significant gun control legislation in his second term.

The Exeter recall centers on the question of who controls permitting for concealed-carry weapons. Before 2011, that job fell to the state attorney general. Normally, the local police department would oversee such permits, but Exeter is so small it doesn’t have a police department.

To many gun owners, the distinction is significant. State law stipulates that local authorities “shall” give permits to qualified applicants. The state attorney general, however, has more room for discretion. The law says he “may” issue permits.

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