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Guarded Council Votes First OK on Concealed Carry Law

WPD Chief Col. Stephen McCartney speaks about the concealed carry ordinance's definition of self-defense.
WPD Chief Col. Stephen McCartney speaks about the concealed carry ordinance.

Warwick, RI -The Warwick City Council convened a more well-guarded meeting than usual at City Hall Tuesday night, granting first passage to Councilwoman Camille Vella-Wilkinson’s concealed carry gun permit ordinance.

Councillors were continuing Monday night’s proceedings, cut short by a bomb threat Monday. This evening, two officers and one K-9 unit patrolled the building prior to the start of the meeting. Ptlm. Paul Wells and his partner, K-9 Fox were making rounds across City Council Chambers as citizens gathered for the meeting.

While the concealed carry ordinance was amended several times from the latest version included in the City Council docket, it was the additional detail added to the description of “self-defense” when the city’s Public Safety Committee determines need that settled Warwick Police Chief Col. Stephen McCartney’s major misgivings about the law.

Ptlm. Paul Wells and his partner, K9 Fox, at City Hall prior to Tuesday's ‪‎Warwick‬ City Council meeting. Tonight's meeting was a continuation of Monday's meeting, when bomb threat ended the meeting prematurely.
Ptlm. Paul Wells and his partner, K9 Fox, at City Hall prior to Tuesday’s ‪‎Warwick‬ City Council meeting. Tuesday’s meeting was a continuation of Monday’s meeting, when bomb threat ended the meeting prematurely.

“I was kind of squirming in my seat a little bit there,” while the council discussed the addition of a documented (through police report or restraining order) threat to the definition of self-defense as a criteria the Public Safety Committee should use when determining whether to grant a concealed carry license.

McCartney said an applicant shouldn’t be able to simply claim a state of mind with no other cause for worry and expect a concealed carry permit. But, if someone had a documented threat to their safety, including a police report or a restraining order, “No reason that person shouldn’t be able to carry a gun,” McCartney said.

In fact, those situations are, in his memory, always ones in which the Public Safety Committee grants concealed carry permits, the Police Chief said. The ordinance simply puts it in writing now.

Employment and neighborhood conditions are also grounds for determining need of a concealed carry permit. Examples include but are not limited to: amount of money carried, lateness of the hour, past instances of crime, the surrounding neighborhood and other dangerous circumstances.

The ordinance also requires a detailed, written explanation within 10 business days if a permit is denied, and provides an appeal through judicial review. Also, “No line of questioning by The Board during the interview process will call for speculation as to how the applicant may alter his or her actions to negate the request/need for a CCW permit,” according to the ordinance.

The measure passed unanimously after approving the amendments. The law now faces a final second vote at next week’s City Council meeting before becoming law.

(The full amended version of the ordinance is embedded below.)

In other news, the council also passed:

PCR-24-15 – Several Amendments to the enabling legislation empowering  the City Council Sewer Review Commission.

The measure needed to pass Tuesday night to make it to the State Assembly in time for them to act on it. That nearly didn’t happen, as Councilman Joe Solomon and Councilman Steven Merolla objected to a standing $250 connect capable fee clause – a part of sewer authority legislation for decades. If exercised (which would have required a separate hearing before the Council) the fee would apply to about 2,500 households nearby City sewer lines that are not yet connected.

A first attempt to cut the fee from the law failed two to seven, with Solomon and Merolla on the minority vote.

Merolla asked for a financial note on the legislation, which would’ve postponed it past the Assembly’s window for consideration, effectively killing it. Councilman Joseph Gallucci proposed reconsidering the connect capable fee amendment if Merolla would withdraw his financial note request.

Merolla agreed, the second vote eliminating the connect capable fee passed, and then the legislation passed.

PCO-11-15 – Updating building permit fees.

Another resolution, ​PCO-10-15 – All payments of taxes received by mail shall be credited to a taxpayer’s account as of the date of the United States Postal Service postmark on the envelope containing the payment, was continued until the next Monday’s meeting April 13.


Pco 7-15 (Amended April 6, 2015)


Rob Borkowski
Author: Rob Borkowski

Rob has worked as reporter and editor for several publications, including The Kent County Daily Times and Coventry Courier, before working for Gatehouse in MA then moving home with Patch Media. Now he's publisher and editor of Contact him at [email protected] with tips, press releases, advertising inquiries, and concerns.

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