A military police officer for the Rhode Island National Guard is suing after having his concealed carry permit revoked. Pedro Alvarez Jr. was issued a Rhode Island Pistol Permit in January 2017.
Six months later, his Pistol Permit was revoked because of an alleged affiliation with a biker gang, and he was granted no way of appealing the decision. At the time of revocation, he was waiting to be shipped out to boot camp and then school to become an MP.
He later received a letter from the police chief that stated:
“… photographs on his Facebook page showed him socializing and being in close company with the leader of and officers of the Thug Riders and Pagan motorcycle gangs.”
Alverez is now suing the town of Burrillville, Police Chief Stephen Lynch, and the Police Department in the U.S. District Court. He is stating that they violated his right to bear arms, due process rights, and First Amendment right to free association. He also says it is causing issues with other job opportunities and security clearances.
One lesson we can learn from this is to be careful what you post to social media. And I get it. We’ve all been young and dumb, but these things can come back and bite you in the ass. I’m not saying Alvarez was in the wrong here. I was unable to find the photo in question, so I cannot comment on the subject matter of the photo.
But should an image someone posted to social media be grounds for revoking a CCW permit?
Now, the concealed carry laws in Rhode Island are a bit different than other states. Both the Attorney General and local officials issue Rhode Island Pistol Permits. The difference is that the law for the Attorney General uses the term “may issue” and for local authorities is “shall issue.”
Since Alverez is suing the town, police chief, and police department, we can assume he has a pistol permit that was locally issued.
The next thing we need to look at is the section of the law called “Proper Showing of Need.”
Burrillville Pistol Permit: Proper Showing Of Need
In considering each individual application for a pistol permit the Burrillville Police Department must determine whether or not the applicant has demonstrated a proper showing of need to carry a loaded firearm in public, and consider the individual’s demonstration of skill and responsibility to safely carry and use a firearm in compliance with all state, federal and local laws. While there cannot be any set formula or criteria to limit or restrict the Burrillville Police Department’s discretion to issue or deny a pistol permit, the Burrillville Police Department considers the following factors in assessing an applicant’s proper showing of need.
1. Has the applicant demonstrated a specific particularly risk to life, limb or property?
2. Has the applicant demonstrated the skill, training, and ability to properly use a firearm in accordance with Rhode Island laws?
3. Does past unlawful, dangerous or violent conduct of the applicant justify denial at the Burrillville Police Department’s discretion even if it is not sufficient to disqualify the applicant as a matter of law from possessing a firearm?
4. Has the applicant been issued a protective order pursuant to Chapter 15-5, Chapter 15-15, or Chapter 8-8.1 of the General Laws?
After reviewing the application, the Burrillville Police Department shall grant or deny the pistol permit, and, if denied, state the reason.
So even though they are technically ‘shall issue,’ they have the discretion of granting you a permit or not. And where does a photo of someone associating with an alleged gang member fit into this “Proper Showing of Need?” I’m not really sure.
And even if there is a photo of him with a gang member. Should mere association with another person because to deny or revoke someone’s concealed carry permit? Whether you agree with that or not, you should always be careful of who you associate with. Just like social media images, that can come back to bite you in the ass too.