Gun laws in Rhode Island

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Location of Rhode Island in the United States

Gun laws in Rhode Island regulate the sale, possession, and use of firearms and ammunition in the state of Rhode Island in the United States.

Summary table[edit]

Subject/Law Long guns Handguns Relevant Statutes Notes
State Permit to Purchase? No Yes RI Gen. Stat. 11–47–35 All purchasers of handguns must complete and pass a safety exam managed by the RI Department of Environmental Management, at which time they will receive a DEM issued "blue card" allowing purchase. Exempt are active duty military members, law enforcement officers, and retired law enforcement officers.
Firearm registration? No No RI Gen. Stat. 11–47–41
Assault weapon law? No No None
Owner license required? No No None
Carry permits issued? No Yes RI Gen. Stat. 11–47–11
RI Gen. Stat. 11–47–18
Rhode Island is a hybrid "shall issue" and "may issue" state for carry. Licenses may be granted either by local authorities or by the state's attorney general's office. Licenses granted by local authorities are "shall issue" while those issued by the attorney general's officer are "may issue" under state law. However, most local authorities defer to the attorney general which effectively blocks most issuance, unless one is a retired LEO.
Open carry permitted? Yes Yes RI Gen. Stat. 11–47–18 Open carry of handguns is permitted for only those with a carry permit issued by the attorney general. Open carry not permitted for those who's handgun carry permits were issued by local authorities. Long gun open carry with or without a permit is not prohibited by law.
State Preemption of local restrictions? Yes Yes RI Gen. Stat. 11–47–58
Castle Doctrine Law? Yes Yes [1] No duty to retreat if you are in your home
NFA weapons restricted? Yes Yes RI Gen. Stat. 11–47–8
RI Gen. Stat. 11–47–20
It is a violation of state law to possess any NFA weapon or silencers with the exception of Class III FFLs.
Peaceable Journey laws? No Yes RI Gen. Stat. 11–47–8 State law mirrors Federal law to a limited degree but does not make any provision for transport of rifles and explicitly states that an individual transporting a weapon must have a valid permit in another state. The State may also adhere to federal law but this is unclear and there does not appear to be any statewide policy. The Firearms owners protection act preempts this however, and the only known weapons that are illegal are NFA weapons.

Concealed carry[edit]

Rhode Island is a hybrid shall/may issue state. The "local licensing authority" of each town (police chief or town council if the locality has no police force) is given the authority to issue on a shall basis[1] but many police chiefs and town officials refuse to issue. Often an applicant will be referred to the attorney general which is a "may issue" licensing authority.[2] However, the "shall" nature of the applicable statute is confusing, stating that the applicant should have "good reason to fear an injury to his or her person or property or has any other proper reason for carrying a pistol or revolver". Some local police chiefs disregard the "proper reason" clause and require a letter of need. Most local police chiefs also use the AG's application (which does require need) and thus the chiefs simply follow suit. In the case of an attorney general's application, the local police chief has to sign ones application to verify residency, or a town hall official can sign and stamp the application to verify residency before one can submit the application to the attorney general. But, before he signs the application he may have the person applying take an NRA Safety Course from a Certified NRA Instructor within the state. State law does require an applicant for either permit to pass a skill test using the Army-L target at 25 yards, to be certified by a police official or a certified NRA instructor.[3][4] In most cases, the AG will not issue a permit unless the demonstrated need is extremely convincing (work purposes, threat to one's life, etc.). Upon denial, applicants are offered the opportunity to appeal, requiring an interview with Bureau of Criminal Investigation staff. This often results in the issuance of a restricted permit, often for target range use. However, state law does not grant the AG the authority to issue restricted permits and state law explicitly states that carrying a firearm to a target range does not require a permit.

Non-resident permits can theoretically be issued by any locality under 11–47–11 but it is unclear how many have ever been issued and considering the general antagonism of local police chiefs towards concealed carry, it seems unlikely that such a permit would be issued. 11–47–8 does allow an out-of-state permit carrier to carry concealed in Rhode Island as long as they are only traveling through the state.

Castle law[edit]

Rhode Island does have a moderately strong castle law,[5] limited to the inside of a dwelling, with no duty to retreat.