The Boston Globe recently reported that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has formally taken steps to comply with the June 23rd, 2022 decision of the United States Supreme Court in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen.

The SCOTUS decision, which in political circles has become know simply as “Bruen”, held that applicants for concealed firearm permits cannot be required to demonstrate a “good reason” or a “showing of need” before being issued a permit. The Massachusetts Attorney General issued legal guidance to the several cities and towns in the Commonwealth directing those licensing authorities to cease enforcement of any state laws that allowed restrictions on new and existing firearm permits, as well as the provisions that required an applicant demonstrate “a good reason” for wanting the permit.

Effectively, overnight, thousands of concealed firearms permit holders have had their once-restricted permits become unrestricted with the stroke of a pen. In their analysis, the Globe continues on to anticipate further challenges to gun laws within the Commonwealth based upon the standard set forth in Bruen.

Per Bruen, any governmental agency seeking to restrict a person’s ability to keep and bear arms in common use inside and outside of their homes, for the purposes of self defense, must affirmatively prove said restriction is one that is “part of the historical tradition that delimits the outer bounds of the right to keep and bear arms.” The states of California, New York, Maryland, Hawaii and New Jersey, all of which had similar “showing of need” clauses in their own laws, have also had guidance issued by their Attorneys General directing their licensing authorities to stop requiring all “good reason” and “showing of need” requirements for applicants for a concealed carry permit.

One state that has thus far refused to issue any guidance to its licensing authorities is the State of Rhode Island. Attorney General Peter Neronha has yet to make any public comment about the holding in Bruen,  except to say that his office was reviewing the decision of the Supreme Court. It shouldn’t take a month for a career government attorney to see that Rhode Island now has a facially unconstitutional law remaining on its books – a law that directly affects the actions of the Office of the Attorney General. R.I.G.L §11-47-18 governs the issuance of a concealed carry permit by the Attorney General and, as written in its text, requires the applicant to demonstrate “a proper showing of need” in order for the Attorney General to consider granting the applicant a permit. “A proper showing of need” is exactly what the Supreme Court held to be an unconstitutional restriction on the “unqualified command” of the 2nd Amendment, yet AG Neronha has not taken any action to ensure Rhode Island is acting in conformity with the United States Supreme Court’s ruling – a ruling which is the law of the land in this country under the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause.

Additionally, the Attorney General has failed to offer any legal guidance to the 39 cities and towns on how to issue their permits under R.I.G.L. §11-47-11, particularly with regard to what can or cannot cause an application for a locally-issued concealed carry permit to be denied on “suitability” grounds. While the locally-issued permits are statutorily “shall-issue” permits, as any Rhode Islander knows, the suitability requirement has been unevenly and inconsistently applied by police departments across the state because the term itself is not defined by our laws. This, in and of itself, is problematic because, as Justice Kavanaugh points out in his concurring opinion in Bruen, licensing authorities evaluating applications for concealed carry permits must not have “open-ended discretion” when reviewing these applications. The states and their licensing authorities must use objective criteria to determine suitability to carry a firearm outside the home for the purposes of self defense. Suitability, as used in R.I.G.L. §11-47-11, is not defined, thus allowing the unconstitutional “open-ended discretion” barred by the Court in Bruen. It is incumbent upon the Rhode Island Attorney General to ensure that the laws of Rhode Island are completely consistent with the United States Constitution as interpreted by the US Supreme Court. Peter Neronha has refused to do so and has left Rhode Islanders in a state of legal uncertainty on the issue of a fundamental, constitutional right.

It is likely the case that AG Neronha does not wish to acknowledge the fact that the licensing scheme in Rhode Island unlawfully infringes on our fundamental right to keep and bear arms in common use for self-defense. Mr. Neronha was the very-public face of the three gun-control bills which were signed intolaw during this year’s General Assembly session. At his urging, the General Assembly passed three bills into law which, at minimum, are inconsistent with the Supreme Court’s holding in Bruen. Now that the Court has definitively ruled on the scope of the 2nd Amendment, Mr. Neronha cannot stick his head in the sand and pretend that Bruen doesn’t exist. He has a legal, ethical and professional responsibility to ensure the State of Rhode Island protects all of our fundamental constitutional rights, even those rights with which he clearly does not agree. Unfortunately, Mr. Neronha’s political and personal opinions have prevented him from upholding the oath he took as the state’s Attorney General in 2019, to protect and defend the constitutions of the State of Rhode Island and the United States, leaving Rhode Islanders without a legal advocate in their corner. It will likely cost Rhode Islanders thousands of dollars in legal fees, thousands of hours of time, and unnecessary litigation to fully realize the rights restored to them by the Supreme Court simply because of the inaction and partisan intransigence of Peter Neronha.

Rhode Islanders must flatly reject the partisan politics coming from Attorney General Neronha and demand that he respect the rule of law as decided by the Supreme Court.

Chas Calenda is the endorsed Republican Candidate for Rhode Island Attorney General. Mr. Calenda hosts “Chas Calenda – Attorney At Law” Wednesday evenings @8:30PM ET (NYC/DC) on

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