Rhode Island prohibits any person from carrying a handgun (concealed or visible) on or about the person without a license, except in his or her dwelling house or place of business or on land possessed by him or her.1 Also, carrying a handgun without a license is prima facie evidence of an intention to commit a crime of violence in a prosecution for a crime of violence.2
Rhode Island provides law enforcement with some discretion to determine whether or not to issue a concealed handgun license to an applicant. Under Rhode Island law, applicants can obtain a concealed handgun license by applying either to local licensing authorities or to the Attorney General.
Rhode Island law states that the local licensing authorities of any city or town “shall issue” licenses to an eligible applicant (see below) but only “if it appears” that the applicant is (1) “a suitable person to be licensed” and (2) either “has good reason to fear an injury to his or her person or property” or has any other “proper reason” for carrying a handgun.3 Local law enforcement thus retains discretion to determine who is considered “suitable” and has “good” or “proper” reasons for carrying concealed weapons in public.
To apply for a license from a local licensing authority, an applicant must provide his or her fingerprints, photograph, name, address, signature, reason for desiring such a license, and:
- Be age 21 or older;
- Have a bona fide residence or place of business in the city or town in which he or she is applying, or a bona fide residence in another state and a license to carry a concealed weapon from that state;
- Have a certification that he or she is qualified to use a handgun of a caliber equal or larger than the one he or she wants to carry.4
Under Rhode Island law, the state attorney general also “may issue” a license to carry a handgun, “concealed or not,” to a person age 21 or older who makes a “proper showing of need” for the license and has certification of his or her ability to use the handgun.5 The attorney general-issued license, unlike that issued by local authorities, can also be granted to undocumented persons.6
Any handgun license can be revoked for “just cause” by the authority that granted the license.7
Firearm Safety Training
Rhode Island requires all persons seeking concealed handgun license to certify that he or she is qualified to use a handgun of a caliber equal to or greater than the caliber of handgun he or she intends to carry.8 The applicant is required to obtain a score of 195 or better out of a possible score of 300, with 30 consecutive rounds at a distance of 25 yards on any army “L” target firing “slow” fire.9
The range officers of the Rhode Island state police or any city or town police department maintaining a regular and continuing firearms training program, a pistol instructor certified by the National Rifle Association and/or the United States Revolver Association, or any other qualified persons that the attorney general may designate are authorized to certify the qualification.10
Duration and Renewal
A handgun license in Rhode Island is valid for four years.11
Disclosure or Use of Information
In Rhode Island, both the attorney general and local licensing authorities are prohibited from disclosing any information given by an applicant for a concealed handgun license, except as part of a prosecution for violation of the license requirement or in response to a subpoena in a civil or criminal action to which the person is a party.12 The license cannot, in any case, contain the serial number of any firearm.13 Moreover, no government authority in Rhode Island may keep a list or register of privately owned firearms or their owners, unless the firearm has been used in committing a crime of violence, or the individual has been convicted of a crime of violence.14
Rhode Island allows the holder of a CCW permit from another state to transport a firearm through the state in a vehicle or other conveyance so long as the person has no intent to detain him or herself or remain within the state of Rhode Island. No other relevant statutes currently exist, indicating that Rhode Island likely does not generally recognize concealed weapons licenses issued in other states.
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- R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-47-8(a).
- R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-47-4.
- R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-47-11(a). In Mosby v. Devine, 851 A.2d 1031 (R.I. 2004) (rejecting a R.I. Const. art. I, § 22 challenge to the state Firearms Act), the Supreme Court of Rhode Island refers to R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-47-11 as a “mandatory” licensing provision, in that an applicant meeting the criteria is entitled to a gun permit, but then acknowledges that local discretion exists in determining who constitutes a “suitable person.” Mosby, 851 A.2d at 1047-48.
- R.I. Gen. Laws §§ 11-47-11 and 11-47-15.
- R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-47-18(a).
- R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-47-18(a).
- R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-47-13.
- R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-47-15.
- Id. The slow fire course shall allow 10 minutes for the firing of each of three 10 shot strings.
- R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-47-16.
- R.I. Gen. Laws §§ 11-47-11(a), 11-47-12.
- R.I. Gen. Laws §§ 11-47-11(b) and 11-47-18(c).
- R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-47-11(a).
- R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-47-41.