BURRILLVILLE – The Burrillville Town Council has reaffirmed its position on gun law in Rhode Island, unanimously passing a resolution last week again declaring the town a Second Amendment sanctuary, and vowing not to appropriate funds to store seized weapons if new legislation is passed by state legislators.
The largely symbolic move comes in reaction to seven bills currently before the General Assembly that aim to restrict ownership and usage of firearms.
“There’s a movement down there to take advantage of the fact that law abiding and legal gun owners and supporters of the Second Amendment are not going to be allowed inside the statehouse to voice their opposition,” said Council President Donald Fox, who noted that he crafted the latest resolution with help from Town Manager Michael Wood, Solicitor William Dimitri and Councilor Dennis Anderson. “I believe it’s incumbent on Burrillville and other communities around the state to stand up and take a stand, and resolve to oppose these legislative acts that are before the General Assembly.”
“I believe this is nothing but an assault – an outright assault – on our Second Amendment rights,” Fox said.
It is the second time the board weighs in on statewide efforts to restrict gun ownership, and while the meeting itself was far quieter than a similar gathering held pre-COVID restrictions, Councilor Raymond Trinque said somewhere between 50 and 75 gun rights advocates were stationed outside of last week’s meeting, held at the Burrillville police station.
Councilors first passed a resolution declaring Burrillville a Second Amendment Sanctuary in 2019, and ten other towns across the state followed suit, with boards passing similar declarations against gun legislation.
The resolution states that the proposals violate the U.S. Constitution protecting citizen’s right to keep and bear arms with legislation Fox deemed, “ill-conceived and completely foolish.”
“We’re already one of the states with the most stringent gun control laws in the country,” he said.
Trinque asserted that places that have more gun control laws are some of the most dangerous.
“If anything they’re going to make things more dangerous because a large percentage of crimes are committed with illegal weapons,” Trinque said of the bills. “There is no reason what-so-ever to make ownership of a properly registered weapon illegal.”
The only two Democrats on the seven-member town board agreed.
“I believe every one of us is against gun violence and it seems the intention of these bill is to prevent gun violence,” said Councilor Jeremy Bailey. “But removing firearms – that would otherwise be lawfully owned – from law abiding citizens… I’ve never seen anything to support that that’s going to reduce gun violence.”
Bailey said he believes increasing the penalties for those committing crimes with firearms would be a better approach.
“Removing guns from the hands of law abiding citizens – it’s never the way,” Bailey said, adding he particularly objects to laws that would prohibit even those with conceal and carry permits from possessing firearms on school grounds. “They’re sitting ducks if there’s no police on those grounds.”
“I don’t take any of this lightly,” said Councilor Amanda Gingell, noting that she feels the current bills proposed do not accomplish their intended purpose. “Once you open it and read into it a little bit more it really isn’t doing anything,” she said of the legislation.
According to the vote this week. the resolution will be forwarded to every municipality in Rhode Island, along with state senators and representatives, the governor and the lieutenant governor.
“The Burrillville Town Council members give great weight to and adhere to the belief of James Madison Jr., the fourth President of these great United States that: ‘Oppressors can tyrannize only when they achieve a standing army, an enslaved press, and a disarmed populace,” it states in part. “We find and declare that these gun restriction bills, if enacted by the Rhode Island General Assembly, infringe upon the rights of the people of Burrillville and the people of the state of Rhode Island to keep and bear arms.”
The complete resolution can be read below.