PROVIDENCE — City Council President Sabina Matos called for a “robust licensing process for local retail gun dealers” in response to a Providence Journal investigation showing the city had decided more than a decade ago that licensing was no longer necessary.
“I am alarmed to learn that the administration is of the position that licensing local retail gun dealers is optional,” Matos said in an emailed statement. ”In light of the numerous tragedies that have occurred locally and nationally because of gun violence, the City of Providence should be using every vetting tool available to prevent another incident from occurring.”
The Journal found that a local gun dealer — who also happens to be a state senator — went to the city about 10 years ago to renew his license through the city to deal guns. The local license is in addition to a federal license through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
But, Democratic state Sen. Frank A. Ciccone III said, a Board of Licenses official told him the local retail gun dealer license was no longer necessary in Providence — even writing it on the face of his old license.
A state law says that retail gun dealers must get a license from their city or town to sell or transfer firearms.
The city administration initially said that “while state law allows the city to issue these types of licenses it does not require the city to do so,” and deferred to the ATF about the retailers.
Then the city said that it didn’t have any such retailers — even though it does, under the definition it provided for what a “retailer” actually is.
Said Matos: “We shouldn’t be delegating our public safety responsibilities to a federal entity and shrugging away our local control. I call on the administration to comply with state law as interpreted by the Attorney General’s Office and to administer a robust licensing process for local retail gun dealers.”
In response to Matos’s statement, Emily Crowell, a spokeswoman for Mayor Jorge Elorza (who took office after Ciccone said he got the pen-amended license), echoed an earlier comment in an email: “At this time, our licensing and public safety teams are reviewing the current FFL’s and will consult with the law department and the AGs office if there is any change.”
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