HOPKINTON — Members of the Hopkinton Town Council will consider a resolution on Monday to make the town a Second Amendment sanctuary.
The Richmond council will discuss, but not vote on, the same resolution on Tuesday. The Charlestown Town council, which will meet on May 13, will not set its final agenda until May 8.
In a press release on Friday, Sen. Elaine Morgan, R-Ashaway, whose district includes the Chariho towns plus Exeter and West Greenwich, urged the five towns she represents to pass Second Amendment sanctuary resolutions.
“I swore an oath when taking office to protect and uphold our Constitution from any infringements,” she wrote. “It is with substantial consideration that I bring forth this matter of discussion based on stabilizing our jurisdictions’ ability to uphold and defend our 2nd Amendment rights. An abundance of states, counties, cities, and towns across the United States have declared themselves 'Second Amendment Sanctuaries,' which means any gun-control laws that infringe upon the constitutional right to keep and bear arms will not be enforced.”
Hopkinton council President Frank Landolfi, a self-described Second Amendment advocate, said he had been approached by residents who support the sanctuary resolution passed April 24 by the Burrillville Town Council.
“I was basically going to wait and see what the electorate did in Burrillville, but I had so many folks reaching out to me that expressed an interest in having our town be a sanctuary for Second Amendment rights that I just didn’t want to wait,” he said. “Senator Morgan kind of pushed me along to get it on there and I’m glad I did, because everybody seems to be very interested in it. I think it’s really important that our state government doesn’t pick and choose what laws they want to follow and what they don’t want to follow.”
The terminology asserting local control echoes the sanctuary city movement in Europe and North America. Numerous local and state governments have proclaimed themselves as welcoming immigrants and asylum seekers and have sought to limit their cooperation with national immigration enforcement efforts. Providence and Rhode Island have adopted these policies.
The resolution under consideration at Monday's meeting declares Hopkinton's support for the Second Amendment and the protection of “Hopkinton Citizens’ inalienable and individual right to keep and bear arms.”
“Be it resolved by the Hopkinton Town Council that the Town of Hopkinton be, and hereby is declared to be a ‘Second Amendment Sanctuary Town,'” the resolution states. “Be it further resolved that the Hopkinton Town Council affirms its support for the Hopkinton Police Department to exercise sound discretion when enforcing laws impacting the right of citizens under the Second Amendment.”
The resolution also states that the town will not allocate funds for the construction of storage systems for weapons “seized pursuant to the requirements set forth in any legislation if such bill is enacted by the Rhode Island General Assembly.”
In Richmond, council Vice President Richard Nassaney said he supported the resolution, but the council would need additional time to consider it before taking a vote.
“We’re just going to be discussing it,” he said. “It’s not going to be a formal vote yet. It was kind of short notice for us. I didn’t want to throw it out there and have people go, ‘You’ve already made up your mind,’ without giving the public an opportunity to talk.”
Nassaney added that Tuesday’s council agenda was full and he wanted to ensure that the resolution received the time and consideration it deserved.
“Our meeting next week is so full of stuff that it would be unfair to put those people out there and then have them sit there for two hours,” he said.
The council will schedule a public hearing and a vote by the end of the month, he said.
Charlestown council Vice President Deborah Carney said she did not know whether the resolution would be on the May 13 agenda.
“We have such a packed agenda for the 13th,” she said. “I don’t know what they plan to do.”
Landolfi said the resolution, if passed, would be a symbolic but powerful gesture.
"It's just a resolution," he said. "It doesn't, obviously, have any legal teeth but it will send a message to the folks at the state that our rights won't be infringed on by our governor's padding her resume to make a stand on these Second Amendment issues. We're just not going to take it."
Gov. Gina Raimondo said if the stricter gun laws pass, she expects every single city and town to follow them, "period."
"I think they're trying to make a political statement opposing my gun safety legislation," she told reporters at an unrelated event in Newport on Friday. "Listen, that's fine to have that political view I happen to disagree with it. I happen to think we've had enough gun violence and enough gun violence in schools that we need to pass these laws, but if you oppose it, then go to the Statehouse and lobby against it."
Raimondo wants a ban on guns in schools and a statewide ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. The Legislature is currently considering several gun-related proposals.
The AP contributed quotes from Gov. Raimondo.