Exeter, Rhode Island, is a town of about 6000 residents.

When the town council proposed handing off issuance of concealed carry permits to the State Attorney General’s office, town residents feared this would be the first step in making it harder to obtain permits. And the town is revolting against the move with a recall petition drive that has qualified for a town-wide vote.

A press release by the group, called We The People of Exeter, states in part:

October 17, 2013

EXETER, RI – We the People of Exeter is announcing the grassroots effort to seek redress of our concerns has been successful. The Exeter Board of Canvassers has certified the recall of four town councilors initiated by the hard working Exeter citizens, who were ignored and dismissed, by those councilors while trying to protect their constitutional rights.

“If these four councilors had spent as much time talking to the citizens of Exeter as they have spent talking to the press the past few weeks, we would not be here”, said petitioner Joseph St. Lawrence.

While firearms licensing was the subject of the underlying debate, this is not, as some members of the council falsely claim, merely a firearms issue. First, they refused to listen to constructive criticism regarding the rights of the citizens by limiting comment and frustrating Exeter residents who were unable to speak on the issue. Now, they dismiss petitions from 600 citizens as petty. This is just the arrogant and unresponsive attitude that galvanized this recall….

We did not choose the process or set the recall rules, but are working within the town charter to hold the town council accountable. This is democracy at work. At the upcoming election, we urge the voters of Exeter to make your voices heard and vote in favor of recall.

Here is a video of the March 11, 2013 public meeting that sparked the recall petition:

According to the group, the objectives are as follows:

The Recall Election Objectives

* Re-Establish a Government: for the people, of the people, by the people.

* Defend your rights as an Exeter citizen and the rights of your fellow citizens.

* This is a non-partisan issue and concerns the Constitutional rights of all Exeter citizens.

* Elect officials who will represent the people and faithfully execute the duties of their office in accordance with the Exeter Town Charter and the law.

* Elect officials who will honor their commitment to the United States of America, respect the rights of its citizens and who will defend the US and Rhode Island Constitutions

Robert Farago, of the Rhode Island-based The Truth About Guns blog provides the following list of council members subject to the recall:

Exeter Recall List

Farago also provided the following background:

Your humble correspondent was there on the fateful night when the Exeter Town Council shirked its responsibility to issue concealed carry permits to residents and punted the job to the RI Attorney General. This they did in front of dozens of townies and an equal amount of concerned NRA members. All of whom were pissed off because RI cities and towns are “shall issue” for the CCW permitting process, whereas the Attorney General’s office operates on a “may issue” basis—despite the RI Constitution’s crystal clarity on gun rights (“The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”) The council’s excuse: they didn’t have the resources for the job. In other words, they wanted residents to jump through lots of hoops for their permit and didn’t want to be responsible for the hoopla.

The Providence Journal reports that the recall election will take place in the first half of December 2013:

Mary B. Hall, chairwoman of the Board of Canvassers, said the recall vote will take place either the first or second week of December. The decision will be made next week.

If residents vote in favor of recalling the four council members — President Arlene B. Hicks, Vice President William Monahan, Robert Johnson and Calvin A. Ellis, all Democrats — the three people who were on the ballot for Town Council but did not get in, all Republicans, will become the new council members.

They and Raymond A. Morrissey Jr., an independent and the one council member not facing recall, would appoint a fifth council person, according to Hall.

I have reached out to the group for comment, but have not received an on-the-record response yet.

 
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