'Sanctuary' status push obscures real issues


It’s become a trend in Rhode Island of late.

A handful of communities – including Burrillville, West Greenwich and Hopkinton – have approved resolutions to declare themselves “Second Amendment sanctuary towns.” Most of the towns that have taken up resolutions are within Republican Rep. Elaine Morgan’s legislative district.

Would, or should, communities like Johnston, Cranston and Warwick consider similar resolutions? The short answer, we believe, is no.

It is people, not guns, in need of protection. We do not see Second Amendment rights as being under attack – as some would suggest – based on the pursuit of several common-sense gun-control measures that have been proposed in the General Assembly and elsewhere.

One such measure is a ban on assault weapons like the AR-15, which are well known to many for their highly lethal capabilities. Such weapons have become infamous for their use in a number of the high-profile mass-shooting incidents across the country in recent years, including the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting in Connecticut and the 2017 attack in Las Vegas that left 58 people dead.

Whether for hunting, sport or protection, there is nothing wrong with gun ownership. It is a right provided for in the United States Constitution. We know the vast majority of gun owners are responsible and abide by the law.

But we agree with those who are pushing for restrictions, such as those laid out in a resolution that recently failed before the Cranston City Council’s Ordinance Committee. The measure – which would have asked the General Assembly to ban assault weapons, high-capacity magazines and the carrying of concealed weapons on school grounds – fell short on a 2-4 party-line vote, although some Republican council members suggested they would be open to a scaled-back iteration of the Democratic-sponsored proposal.

We agree with Councilman Steven Stycos, who said during the debate: “Having these assault weapons, that are weapons of war, and high-capacity magazines in the general population is dangerous.”

Even during the spirited discussion in Cranston – which drew a litany of public speakers from both sides – there was no mention of considering “Second Amendment sanctuary” status. The proposal has also yet to surface for consideration in Warwick, and it appears very unlikely that it will.

Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena recently said he doesn’t see a need for the town to consider a “Second Amendment sanctuary” designation in his town at this time. However, he left the door open should the state institute any law forcing Johnston Police to collect and store firearms. He said that Johnston doesn’t have the resources or manpower for such an endeavor.

No one – at least, no reasonable participant in the debate over this issue – is calling for the indiscriminate confiscation of guns.

We understand the desire of some to make a political statement through the adoption of “Second Amendment sanctuary” status for their community. But we think the time, energy and attention of our leaders is better spent on addressing other matters.


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