Norman T. Gadomski, Jr.
Joseph H. Tavares, Chief of Police for the City of East Providence
For Petitioner: David J. Strachman, Esq.
For Respondent: Robert E. Craven, Esq.
Present: Suttell, C.J., Goldberg, Flaherty, Robinson, and Indeglia, JJ.
The petitioner, Norman T. Gadomski, Jr. (Gadomski or petitioner), seeks review by petition for common law writ of certiorari of a decision of the respondent, Joseph H. Tavares (Tavares or respondent), the Chief of Police for the City of East Providence (city or East Providence), denying the petitioner's application for a license to carry a concealed weapon pursuant to G.L. 1956 § 11-47-11. On April 2, 2015, this case came before the Supreme Court sitting at Rhode Island College in the City of Providence, for oral argument, pursuant to an order directing the parties to appear and show cause why the issues raised in this petition should not be decided without further briefing and argument. After considering the parties' submitted memoranda and oral arguments, we are satisfied that cause has not been shown. Accordingly, we shall decide the petition at this time without further briefing or argument. For the reasons set forth herein, the decision denying the petitioner's application is quashed. Further, the respondent is directed to issue a new decision on the petitioner's application not inconsistent with this opinion.
Facts and Travel
In early 2012, Gadomski, a resident of East Providence, submitted to the East
Providence Police Department an application for a license to carry a concealed weapon. The application indicated that Gadomski wanted a license because he occasionally works alone handling cash and expensive tools and equipment, carries cash when purchasing firearms for his collection, and because he camps, hikes, and bikes alone. The application also stated that Gadomski wanted a license from this state, in which he resides, so that he could obtain a nonresident license from Massachusetts, which would enable him to join a nearby gun club in Massachusetts. In response to a question in the application asking if the applicant had ever been arrested, petitioner replied in the affirmative, and attached his Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) report from Massachusetts. The CORI report indicated that petitioner had been arraigned on misdemeanor charges twice as an adult. The first charge was for possession of alcohol by a minor, which was dismissed with a payment into the Victim-Witness Fund and court costs. The second charge was for destruction of property. Initially, a continuance without a finding was entered, and then later the charge was dismissed, again with a payment into the Victim-Witness Fund and court costs.
On March 20, 2012, Gadomski was interviewed by Tavares regarding petitioner's application. Gadomski appeared at the interview without counsel. No record of the interview was transcribed or otherwise recorded. On April 27, 2012, petitioner, through counsel, sent a letter to Tavares regarding petitioner's application. The letter indicated that petitioner had not heard anything from Tavares since the interview and requested that a permit be issued to him. On July 9, 2012, petitioner's counsel sent a second letter to Tavares indicating that there still had not been any response from the city regarding petitioner's application. This second letter included copies of Gadomski's concealed firearm permit issued by the State of Utah and his federal firearm license to be a collector of curios and relics, which petitioner had acquired since submitting his initial application. The petitioner asserts that there was no response to this letter.
On August 21, 2012, petitioner's counsel sent a third letter to Tavares requesting copies of certain records pursuant to G.L. 1956 § 38-2-2. The letter requested copies of all East Providence records for the years 2007 through 2012 showing the number of applications for a license to carry a concealed weapon, the number of applications for such a license that were granted, and the time between receipt of an application and the issuance of a permit or denial of a request. Subsequently, Gadomski's counsel received a letter from Tavares responding to petitioner's requests. The response indicated that, to Tavares's knowledge, no license to carry a concealed weapon had been issued within the last decade and that, in order to receive a license, all requirements of the application must be met. On September 11, 2012, petitioner's counsel sent another letter to Tavares indicating receipt of Tavares's response and expressing frustration with the handling of petitioner's application. The letter requested the issuance of the license to Gadomski or in the alternative, specification of the legal basis for refusal to do so. Tavares did not respond to this letter.
On October 5, 2012, Gadomski filed a petition for a writ of mandamus in the Providence County Superior Court seeking an order requiring Tavares to rule on Gadomski's application. In the interim, while Gadomski's mandamus petition was still pending, Gadomski sent Tavares a copy of several other firearm-related ...