Editorial: Incendiary

Posted 6/6/19

So after two meetings, nearly a week of drama, votes made, unmade, made again, recess and confusion, Tiverton stands for strong gun rights but is not quite a 2nd Amendment Sanctuary Town.

What a …

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Editorial: Incendiary

Posted

So after two meetings, nearly a week of drama, votes made, unmade, made again, recess and confusion, Tiverton stands for strong gun rights but is not quite a 2nd Amendment Sanctuary Town.

What a waste of time for a Tiverton Town Council with so much real business on its plate. In the end, given how little of substance was accomplished, this all looks to be less about guns than about keeping people riled up.

It comes just at a moment that it seemed Tiverton could finally exhale and enjoy the warm weather, beach season and cookouts. The casino fight is long gone, a bitter budget battle ended with yet another tax cut and, for a blessed instant, there seemed nothing much to bicker about.

When out of the blue town council member Justin Katz saw a need to step in and defend Tiverton’s gun owners — from what is not quite clear. Well behaved people who wish to own guns enjoy the same rights they’ve always had and nothing going on at the State House changes that.

Guns aren’t something that this councilman has campaigned on that we can recall and the town’s gun owners haven’t been lining up at council meetings to plead for protection. How then to explain this odd mimicry of recent decisions made out in Burrillville and Hopkinton?

He says not, but bewildered Tiverton residents have good reason to wonder whether this has more to do with raising a ruckus than any sort of duty-bound defense of the Constitution and its call for a ‘well-regulated militia.’ Intentional or otherwise, its effect is to goad that likely sizable Tiverton majority who would resent having their community labeled as that wacky gun town out on Rhode Island’s eastern frontier. What’s next — Tiverton Town Motto: “A gun in the hand is better than a cop on the phone?”

Skeptics might also suspect something else is behind the timing. This same council member is among the targets of a recall effort launched, not by liberal ‘big spenders’ in town, but by some pretty conservative folks who accuse this council of selling out. How better to exercise the base than with a contrived gun rights diversion?

Rather than getting their constituents hot and bothered all over again, town leaders might try cooling it as summer arrives.

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Scott Pickering has been on the East Bay Newspapers team for more than two decades, since starting as a reporter for the Sakonnet Times. He's been editor of most of the papers, was Managing Editor of all the papers for many years, and became General Manager in 2012. Today he can be found posting to EastBayRI.com, steering news coverage, writing editorials, talking to readers, working with the sales team, collaborating on design, or helping do whatever it takes to get the papers out the door. Reach him at spickering@eastbaynewspapers.com.