Gun laws in Rhode Island are relatively restrictive and may be difficult to obtain a permit in this state.
The carry licenses in Rhode Island are issued at local level by the police chief or attorney general. Rhode Island is a “shall issue” state by local authorities and “may issue” by an attorney general.
Important Rhode Island Gun Laws to Know
Local law enforcement in Rhode Island “shall-issue” licenses to eligible applicants that appear to be a “suitable person to be licensed” with “good reason to fear injury on his or her person or property” or has any other legitimate reasons for carrying a handgun.
Attorney generals also “may-issue” handgun carry licenses to a person above 21 years old with a proper reason of the need for the license and has the necessary certification to demonstrate his or her ability to use a handgun safely.
Something different from the local authority-issued license is that the attorney general can issue licenses to undocumented persons.
When it comes to purchasing a handgun, the buyer must obtain a Rhode Island License to Carry Concealed Weapon (LCCW) or a “blue card” from the RI Department of Environmental Management.
Those purchasing a handgun from a private individual will also need to undergo a background check that can be obtained through the state police or local chief of police.
Rhode Island gun law permits open carry of firearms with a Rhode Island LCCW issued by attorney generals. Those who want to practice concealed carry only need an LCCW issued by local authorities. The processes for concealed handgun license by local licensing authorities and attorney generals are similar.
License applicants must be at least 21 years old and be able to explain the need for a firearm and three notarized character references. Additionally, the carry license applicant must also successfully complete a firearms training course that includes a live-firing test to demonstrate their ability to safely use a handgun.
Non-residents of Rhode Island may also apply for an LCCW through local law enforcement with a permit from their home state. However, only the attorney general may issue LCCWs to non-residents without permits.
Nonetheless, there are areas in Rhode Island which are completely off-limits to firearms regardless of whether the person has a carry license or not. Some of these off-limit areas include state parks and federal buildings.
Rhode Island is a Castle Doctrine state with no duty to retreat. Residents of Rhode Island have the right to meet force with force for self-defense purposes at a place where he or she is lawfully permitted to be.
The state presumes that the person who used force acted reasonably by means of self-defense from great bodily harm or death. Residents of Rhode Island also do not have the duty to retreat from another person engaged in the following situations:
- Breaking or entering a dwelling, building, property, or place of business.
- Intend to commit murder, sexual assault, robbery, arson, or larceny.
Rhode Island Gun Laws Basics
Does Rhode Island allow constitutional carry?
No, Rhode Island does not allow constitutional carry.
Does Rhode Island permit open carry of handguns?
Yes, Rhode Island permits open carry but only with a RI LCCW that’s issued by the attorney general.
What’s the minimum age a concealed carry license applicant needs to be?
The minimum age to apply for concealed carry in Rhode Island is 21 years old.
Does Rhode Island have restrictions for handgun magazine capacity?
No, Rhode Island does not have handgun magazine capacity restrictions.
Does Rhode Island have ammunition restrictions?
Yes, Rhode Island prohibits armor-piercing ammunition.
Key State Laws
Do residents have a duty to inform a police officer that they’re carrying a concealed firearm in Rhode Island?
No, Rhode Island does not impose a duty to inform law enforcement officers that you’re carrying a concealed firearm.
Is the carry license linked to the driver’s license in Rhode Island?
No, the Rhode Island carry license is not linked to driver’s license. Therefore, a law enforcement officer will not be notified that you’re a concealed carry license holder when they run your driver’s license.
Are “No Weapons Allowed” signs enforced in Rhode Island?
No, Rhode Island does not enforce “no weapons allowed” signs.
Does Rhode Island have pre-emption laws related to concealed carry?
Yes, Rhode Island has pre-emption of firearm laws, except local governments are allowed to pass ordinances to protect public safety.
Does Rhode Island have a red flag law?
Yes, Rhode Island has a red flag law that allows a law enforcement agency to file a petition that enjoins the respondent from having in his or her possession, custody, or control of any firearms and shall further enjoin him/her from purchasing, receiving or attempting to purchase a firearm.
Handgun Laws on Purchase & Possession
Does Rhode Island require a permit to purchase a handgun?
All purchasers of handguns must either have a RI LCCW or have passed a minimum of two-hour basic handgun safety course and received a safety certificate by the RI Department of Environmental Management (DEM).
Do private gun sales in Rhode Island require background checks?
Yes, Rhode Island requires both licensed dealers and private unlicensed sellers to conduct background backs through the state police before they can sell a firearm to the person. All prospective firearms purchasers must sign an application form for the background checks. Exemptions to background checks include:
Rhode Island License to Carry Concealed Weapons holders
Active and full-time members of the state police, state marshal’s office, city and town police departments and correctional officers.
Does Rhode Island impose a waiting period for handgun purchases?
Yes, Rhode Island has a 7-day waiting period.
Do handguns need to be registered in Rhode Island?
No, Handguns in Rhode Island do not need to be registered.
Process for Purchasing Handguns in Rhode Island
You need to first obtain a Rhode Island Hunter Education Course Card (Orange Card) or a Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) Pistol/Revolver Safety Certificate (Blue Card) in order to purchase a handgun in Rhode Island.
The Blue Card certifies that you’ve completed the handgun safety exam which is a 50-question exam with true/false and multiple choice questions. The exam can be completed at any RIDEM-approved firearms dealer or sporting club in the state or at the RIDEM Headquarters in Providence.
There is no fee for the exam and a study booklet can be obtained by calling the RIDEM Division of Fish and Wildlife. You’ll need to score at least 80 percent on your test to pass and receive the Blue Card.
Active military personnel has the option to waive the handgun safety exam requirement and obtain a Blue Card by presenting their Military ID at either the RIDEM Division of Fish & Wildlife Great Swamp Field Headquarters or RIDEM Headquarters at 235 Promenade Street, Providence, Rhode Island.
Regardless of whether you’re purchasing a handgun through a private transaction or through a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL), you’ll need to complete a Purchase of a Pistol or Revolver Application Form.
The law also requires a 7-day waiting period after filling in the form with State Police, during which a background check will be completed. If approved, you may collect your firearm after the waiting period has passed.
Firearms Training Requirement
Rhode Island gun law requires a concealed handgun license applicant to be able to undergo firearms training to demonstrate that they are qualified to use a handgun of a caliber equal to or greater than the caliber of handgun they intend to carry.
The applicant must obtain a score of at least 195 out of 300 and perform 30 consecutive live fire rounds at a distance of 25 yards on any army “L” target firing “slow” fire.
Range officers of Rhode Island state police or any other police department maintaining a regular and continuing firearms training program, National Rifle Association and/or United States Revolver Association certified pistol instructor or any other qualified persons that the attorney general designate are authorized to train and certify the qualification.
Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs) / Retired Law Enforcement Officers (RLEOs)
LEOs and RLEOs are protected under the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA) (also referred to as HR 218.). Qualified LEOs and RLEOs are permitted to carry a concealed firearm in any jurisdiction in the United States, regardless of state or local laws.
Firearm Carry Locations
Areas permitted to carry handguns or other weapons
- Bars and restaurants that serve alcohol.
- Vehicle with a permit/license.
- Roadside rest areas
- Places of worship provided they do not post signs prohibiting firearms.
- Public or private elementary or secondary school. Any building, stadium, or other structure on school grounds which are being used for an activity sponsored by or through a school in this state.
- State/national parks, WMAs and state/national forests.
- Anywhere if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Secured areas in airports.
- Any place prohibited by federal law or state law or regulation.
Rhode Island Concealed Carry License
The applicant for the carry license must:
- Be at least 21 years old or above.
- Provide proof of residence or place of business within the county where the application is submitted. Or proof of residence within the United States and a CCW permit/license for non-residents of Rhode Island.
- Only attorney generals can issue licenses to non-residents without concealed carry permits.
- Provide proof of qualification of firearms safety training by a certified weapons instructor.
- Have a good reason for the need of firearms such as a fear of injury to his or her person or property or other reasons.
- Be a suitable person with good character.
- Not be prohibited from possessing a firearm any state or federal law or court order
- Meet federal law requirements.
Validity: 4 years
Processing time: 90 days
Application Process for Concealed Carry License in Rhode Island
Step 1: Obtain firearms qualification within 1 year of application.
Step 2: Complete the application and have it notarized. And prepare 3, typed, signed and dated notarized reference letters.
Step 3: Prepare 2 passport-style photographs.
Step 4: Have the application signed or stamped by the local police chief or city hall official if applying through the attorney general.
Step 5: Prepare and submit the following documents:
- 2 FBI fingerprint cards
- 2 forms of identification that are signed and dated by the Notary Public
- 2 passport photos
- 2 copies of birth certificate or passport.
- Firearms training certificate with a copy of the instructor’s certificate.
- A copy of the home state permit (for non-residents applying through local authorities)
- Typed and signed letter of explanation with company letterhead and business license (if applying for employment purposes).
- A typed and dated letter submitted by the applicant with reasons for the need for the license.
Step 6: Wait for notification on application status.
Rhode Island Concealed Carry Reciprocity With Other States
- Arkansas (permitless carry, at least 18 years old)
- Idaho (permitless carry, at least 18 years old)
- Mississippi (permitless carry, at least 18 years old)
- Montana (permitless carry, at least 18 years old)
- New Hampshire (permitless carry, at least 18 years old)
- North Carolina
- South Dakota (permitless carry, at least 18 years old)
- Vermont (permitless carry, at least 18 years old)
- States That Have Restricted Reciprocity with Rhode Island
- Arizona (permitless carry, at least 21 years old)
- Alaska (permitless carry, at least 21 years old)
- Iowa (permitless carry, at least 21 years old)
- Kansas (permitless carry, at least 21 years old)
- Kentucky (permitless carry, at least 21 years old)
- Maine (permitless carry, at least 21 years old)
- Michigan (resident permits only)
- Missouri (permitless carry, at least 19 years old, 18 for military)
- Oklahoma (permitless carry, at least 21 years old)
- Tennessee (permitless carry, at least 21 years old)
- Texas (issued by the RI Attorney General only)
- Utah (permitless carry, at least 21 years old)
- West Virginia (permitless carry, at least 21 years old)
- Wyoming (permitless carry, at least 21 years old)
Permitless Carry States
- Alaska PC-21
- Arizona PC-21
- Arkansas PC-18
- Idaho PC-18
- Iowa PC-21
- Kansas PC-21
- Kentucky PC-21
- Maine (permits recognized; see Maine Reciprocity section for details or PC-21)
- Mississippi PC-18
- Missouri PC-19
- Montana PC-18
- New Hampshire PC-18
- North Dakota PC-18 for residents only
- Oklahoma PC-21
- South Dakota PC-18
- Tennessee PC-21
- Texas PC-21
- Utah PC-21
- Vermont PC-18
- West Virginia PC-21
- Wyoming PC-21
Hello there, it’s Michael here. A gun lover since young, served the country for the last 20 years. I started the blog to share my experience and gun-related knowledge accumulated throughout the years. Hopefully, you will find something useful over here or just have fun! You can learn more about me here.