For the second time in just over a year, one East Providence police chief is in hot water for infringing on citizens’ Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
The Rhode Island Supreme Court has issued an order faulting Chief Christopher J. Parella for improperly denying residents licenses to carry concealed weapons and failing to abide by the court’s previous ruling.
The court in April 2015 ordered the city to back up any denial of a license to carry a concealed weapon with findings of fact. It also said at that time that the city was incorrectly applying the law by requiring that applicants demonstrate a “a proper and true need” to carry.
In the court’s recent ruling, issued on Oct. 25, the justices threw out Parella’s denial of concealed permits to three residents and directed that new decisions be issued within 90 days that include the chief’s reasoning.
“It’s very frustrating that citizens have to hire a lawyer just to obtain compliance with the Supreme Court ruling,” said Attorney David J. Strachman, legal representation for three residents whose applications were denied. “The law is not discretionary, as the city has argued, but mandatory if an applicant shows a proper reason to carry.”
The Rhode Island residents in Strachman’s case are Jessica de la Cruz, 35, a stay-at-home mother of three who collects rents; Fernando Brasil, 34, an information-technology engineer who grew up handling guns; and Brian K. Turgeon, 52, a man with knee and back problems looking to protect himself and his wife.
de la Cruz wrote in her application that she is a landlord who often collects rent money, and that standing her ground “to defend myself and my children would be the only option” to ensure their survival.
“With the alarming rate of violent acts around the United States, it has become abundantly clear that my number one priority is to keep myself, my family, and my property safe from anyone seeking to do harm,” Brasil wrote in his application.
In court papers, Strachman rebuked East Providence police for their “troubling history” of “flagrantly ignoring” of not only the supreme court’s mandate and the state law.
Strachman referenced the court’s ruling in the case of Norman Gadomski, a National Rifle Association instructor and gun collector who’s application to carry a weapon for self-defense was denied. In 2015, the court found that police chief Joseph Tavares wrongly denied Gadomski’s license by claiming he was required to show a need to carry.
“You shouldn’t have to be an NRA instructor or have a license from the ATF to get licensed,” said David Eikeland, a gun enthusiast with credentials from the NRA whose application to carry for self-defense was denied.
Even after the state Supreme Court ruled police were incorrectly applying the law by requiring applicants to demonstrate “a proper and true need” to carry, Eikeland said nothing has changed.
“Unfortunately, we’re still seeing a lot of people being wrongfully denied,” he said. “It’s very typical that licensing officials are using the wrong standard.”
Perhaps this police chief would be more comfortable in New Jersey.