In Burrillville, council president advocates for defiance of state’s new gun law

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BURRILLVILLE – Placing two high-capacity magazines on the table in front of him at the board’s last meeting in June, Town Council President Donald Fox said he has no plans relinquish the items despite the recently-passed ban in Rhode Island, and encouraged others in town to follow suit.

“I was completely despondent and horrified to watch them pass that last week,” Fox said of the gun control bill, one of three signed into law by Gov. Dan McKee on Tuesday, June 21. “I recommend that anyone around the table who owns these: do not give them up.”

The act of defiance comes in reaction to recently passed legislation that will prohibit the possession of gun magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. The law, which will take effect in roughly six months, dictates that current owners of such magazines modify them, surrender them to police, or transfer them to a state that allows them. Anyone found in possession after the law is enacted could face a fine of up to $5,000 or up to five years in prison.

“I do not believe that my ownership should make me a felon 180 days from now,” Fox said.

The topic brought out heated testimony from residents for and against the ban, with several councilors expressing disgust with the new legislation.

“I understand my knowledge of guns is limited, but I have strong feelings on the rampant shootings that have happened in this country,” said resident Frederick Hunt. “In every civilized country there are gun laws that are put in place that have eliminated these mass shootings.”

“We, as a society in the United States, put up this second Amendment argument that was put in place in the 1776 when we had muskets,” Hunt added.

Councilor Jeremy Bailey, one of only two Democrats on the board, argued that the state already had, “common sense gun laws,” such as background checks and a ten-day wait period, unlike states where many of the mass shootings have recently occurred.

“Passing laws does nothing more than make good, honest, law-abiding citizens felons,” Bailey said. “I’ll fight it with every fiber of my being.”

Councilor Raymond Trinque was among many who argued that the laws do nothing to prevent gun violence.

“The strongest gun laws in the United States are in the cities where there’s the most murders,” Trinque said. “Gun laws aren’t solving the problem.”

Resident Matthew Zanni described the magazine legislation as a, “pointless law not designed to protect anybody.”

“My question is what are you going to do about it?” Zanni asked, suggesting councilors should form a coalition with other towns where similar sentiment prevails.

Resident Frances Dibisceglia was another in the minority defending the law, which passed by a vote of 43-26 in the state House of Representatives in June. Dibisceglia pointed out that several other states already have bans on such magazines, including neighboring Massachusetts.

“I think your defiance is not appropriate and wrong especially in your position as a town councilman,” Dibisceglia said to Fox. “The latest mass shooter in Uvalde, he legally bought his weapons when he turned 18-years-old. He massacred 19 children and two adults.”

“There are limits on everything,” she added, amid interruptions from both sides. “Whether you like it or not, this is what we need to keep our citizens safe.”

But far more spoke against the bill – especially councilors – who were the first in the state to pass a resolution declaring their town a, “Second Amendment Sanctuary,” in reaction to proposed gun restrictions back in 2020.

“Where is all the outrage on all these black kids killing black kids every weekend?” Councilor Dennis Anderson said, referencing states with high crime rates as arguments escalated. Several residents could be heard yelling, while others walked out of the meeting.

“This is not going to change anything,” Anderson said.

“My family has been in Burrillville for well over 100 years,” said Bailey. “I don’t want to leave. I love it here. I’m backed into a corner. That’s when I push back.”

Councilor Dennis Rawson compared the new law to prohibition.

“People who want them will get them,” he said of the weapons.

Councilors said they hope to discuss the issue with local law enforcement, and will consider a lawsuit against the state challenging the legislation.

Fox said the two magazines – use to store and feed ammunition to a rifle and a pistol – will remain displayed on the dais during meetings.

“I’m sorry for what transpired but that’s the sort of woke political nonsense that we’re seeing all over this country, and I can tell you that in this room, that doesn’t fly for us,” he said.

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18 COMMENTS

  1. I am with Mr. Donald Fox, Mr. Jeremy Bailey, and the others who properly called out this silliness. We should not be turned into felons.

  2. VOTE this town council out. Their voting to make this a second amendment town and this latest display puts Burrillville residents at risk!

  3. I believe CT tried a magazine ban and just about no one turned them in. Lots of them got lost in “boating accidents”. These new laws are not Constitutional and I applauded Councilor Fox for his stance. Hold the line and these laws along with NY will be abolished by the SCOTUS

  4. It will be interesting to what the state AG & lawmakers do with the latest supreme court decision with regards to conceal carry. If they are anything like NY, then they will try to weasel their way around it. I just wonder why they think they can not respect the federal law, but still think that the local towns and cities should respect the state law?

    • I guess that will make Mr. Fox and others who ignore the law criminals and we will expect law enforcement to act accordingly. You can’t pick and choose what laws you want to follow.

      • I guess that would also make AG Peter Neronha and people in his office criminals as well. They seem to have made no effort whatsoever to comply with the Supreme Court with regard to concealed carry. It’s pretty rich to think that you can ignore it but then expect towns in your own state to follow your laws.

      • Only when said laws are deemed to be unconstitutional. DoJ will have to side with those holding because the Supreme Court just also invalidated magazine limits by telling the Appellate Courts they made the wrong decision upholding the limits and remanded the case back to the court so they could modify their judgement in accordance with the SCOTUS guidelines. Magazine limits are unconstitutional without a grandfather clause. RI Senators could have avoided a challenge to the law by including one, but they chose not to.

  5. OMG, what next? A politician that feels the need to place ammunition on a table to make his point? Maybe these politicians should be forced to sit in a room for hours with pictures of their grandchildren photoshopped on the dead children’s bodies from Uvalde. Isn’t enough enough? To compare the weapons today with muskets is appropriate. Certainly our founding fathers would have acted to regulate these weapons by now. And stop using the buzz word “woke,” as the vast majority of gun owners feel the same way. Maybe you might be a little more WOKE, if it happened in Burrillville.

      • A little bit of a stretch John to equate a person killing people with an assault rife to a woman who for reasons that should remain hers alone, aborting a fetus. But again, men really feel that they should control women. Women tend to disagree.

        • Who speaks for the child? How can you justify charging anyone who kills a pregnant woman with 2 counts of murder (one count for the woman and a 2nd count for her unborn child) yet believe the death is OK so long as she consents and a Dr. does it? After 24 weeks, they first inject a poison into the fetus to kill the unborn child prior to dissecting him or her and removing him or her. This is OK? There needs to be a limit where after a certain period, abortions are illegal UNLESS the mother’s or child’s health is in danger AND/OR in cases of rape or incest, IMHO.

          • The difference is real simple. The mother makes a choice to end a pregnancy for her reasons and hers alone. Not have a child she was going to birth killed by another with no choice. That is why there is a distinction. And you example of after 24 weeks is not the norm. Late term abortions are not done just because. They are done because the fetus has become unviable or there is another serious issue or to save the life of the mother.

    • So a criminal who is intent on murdering innocent school children is going to stop because owning a certain type of weapon is illegal? Or will they stop on their way out their door saying, “Hey, I better go back into the house and get the 10 round magazines because these 30 round ones are illegal! Where’s the common sense or logic in that unrealistic outcome? Anyone who is going to commit that horrific a crime does NOT care about what ANY OF OUR LAWS STATE. THEY WILL USE WHATEVER THEY WANT. Criminals, by definition, do NOT obey laws. What makes and realistic individual believe these types of criminals will obey the laws you try and use to restrict their actions? It hasn’t worked in Australia where Australians just experienced an 18% increase in gun homicides. Not to count the increases in rapes and other violent crimes! HOW does that happen in a country that outlawed guns? We need to addresses the mental health problems the media is hiding from us. A gun is simply a tool. There are others far worse. It’s time to do something that might actually protect children in school. Locks, armed officers on premises, bullet proof glass, alarms going directly to police departments warning of an active shooter. Switches that lock down every classroom door to prevent entry. Etc.

      • Where do you even get your facts? Australia signed the National Firearms Agreement (NFA) in 1997 after a mass shooting event. In the seven years after the bill was signed, the average firearm suicide rate in Australia declined by 57 percent compared with the seven years prior and the average firearm homicide rate went down by about 42 percent (https://www.vox.com/2015/8/27/9212725/australia-buyback).

        Australia’s rate of gun homicide per 100,000 people also continues to decline while in the US it continues to climb. In 2020 in Australia, they had a rate of 0.13 gun homicides per 100,000 people while the US was 5.9 per 100,000…let those numbers sink in. It’s also worth nothing that Australia has had NO mass shootings since the Port Arthur incident that resulted in the NFA.(https://www.gunpolicy.org/firearms/compareyears/10/rate_of_gun_homicide)

        Let’s just ignore facts and allow our children to continue to be murdered because that’s a great solution. But hey, as long as you get to keep your AR-15s and extended mags who cares because this is ‘Merica’. Our Town Council and those encouraging this behavior are an embarrassment.

      • So we should abolish any law if people are going to “do it anyway.” Is that the logic now? Then why have any laws at all? Having an excessive and unnecessary amount of weaponry is a warning sign (and really, what law-abiding citizen needs that many rounds in their weapon?). People who do it anyway are likely to commit further crimes. We should be treating this as the potential threat that it is, not turning a blind eye because it’s their right.

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