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What are the Gun Laws in Rhode Island?

A Synopsis of State Laws on Purchase, Possession and Carrying of Firearms


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Caution: This summary is meant for general purposes only. Firearm laws frequently change.

Quick Reference

Rifles and Shotguns
  • Permit to purchase rifles and shotguns? No.**
  • Registration of rifles and shotguns? No.
  • Licensing of owners of rifles and shotguns? No.
  • Permit to carry rifles and shotguns? No.

  • Permit to purchase handgun? No.*
  • Registration of handguns? No.
  • Licensing of owners of handguns? No.
  • Permit to carry handguns? Yes.

* Application required and 7-day waiting period.

** Safety course and application required and 7-day waiting period


A person must be 18 years old and not be prohibited by state and federal law from possessing a firearm to purchase a rifle or a shotgun.

A person must complete a "Purchase of a Shotgun or Rifle Application Form" before any sale of a rifle or shotgun, whether through a licensed dealer or through a private party.

The seller must conduct a background check on the potential purchaser through the local police or the superintendent of the State Police.
  • One copy of the form is to be copy of the form is to be kept with the seller and retained for six years.

  • A second copy is given to the law enforcement agency where the sale is taking place for the purposes of conducting the background check.

  • One copy is sent to the Attorney General.

Upon the finding of no disqualifying information, the duplicate and triplicate copies of the form must be destroyed within seven days. A seller shall not deliver a rifle or shotgun to the potential purchaser until seven days after twelve noon of the day following the application, if no disqualifying information has been received from the investigating agency.

To purchase a handgun a person must be a citizen of the United States or a lawful resident of the state or a nonresident member of the armed forces of the United States, at least 21-years-old and not fall into one of the categories of persons prohibited from possessing a firearm.

Before applying for the purchase of a handgun, the buyer must receive a state-issued handgun safety card through:
  • Completion of a hunter safety course, or

  • Completion of a pistol safety course administered by the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and passage of the DEM objective test on handgun safety, or

  • Passage of the DEM objective test on handgun safety, available at the place of purchase or at the DEM headquarters.

The buyer shall present the seller with the state-issued handgun safety card and complete a "Purchase of a Pistol or Revolver Application Form."

The buyer must sign the application and the seller must then mail it to the superintendent of state police or to the local chief of police.

The seller must also mail a copy to the attorney general within seven days and retain one copy for himself.

If seven days elapse from twelve noon of the day following application, and the seller has received no negative information from the police, he may deliver the handgun to the applicant.

The seller shall retain his copy for six years, but the other two copies will be destroyed if, after thirty days, no disqualifying information is discovered. In no event shall the application or any copy contain the serial number of the handgun.

It is unlawful to sell any firearm or ammunition to a minor less than 18-years-of-age without the prior consent of his parent or guardian.

No licensed retail firearms dealer shall deliver a handgun to any purchaser without providing a trigger lock or other safety device.


There are no state licensing requirements for the possession of rifles, shotguns, and handguns by adults.

It is unlawful for a minor under the age of 18 to possess and use any firearm or ammunition, unless he has a firearm permit and is at an approved rifle range or camp and is in the presence of a qualified adult.

The minor’s permit is issued by the state police or the local chief of police upon proof of the completion of a firearms training course by the applicant and provided that the minor has the written consent of his parent or guardian.

The following persons are prohibited from owning, possessing, or controlling any firearms:
  • Any person convicted of a crime of violence.

  • Any fugitive from justice.

  • Any illegal alien.

  • Any person who is under guardianship, treatment, or confinement for being mentally incompetent.

  • Any person who has been adjudicated or is under treatment or confinement as a drug addict or an habitual drunkard, unless he has been pronounced cured for at least five years and can produce an affidavit from a "competent medical authority" stating that he is a proper person to possess firearms.
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