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Rhode Island requires all sellers of handguns, including private sellers, to obtain in triplicate a completed application from the prospective purchaser and submit the original and one copy of the application by registered mail, delivery in person, or by electronic mail to the the chief of police in the city or town in which the person has his or her place of business or, in some cases, the Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police.1 One of these authorities then conducts a background check on the prospective purchaser. The triplicate copy must be sent by the seller via registered mail within seven days to the Rhode Island Attorney General.2

If the police authority finds no disqualifying information on the applicant, or in any case no later than 30 days after the application date, the duplicate and triplicate copies must be destroyed.

The original application will be stamped as received by the background check authority and returned to the handgun seller. The seller is required to retain the original copy of the application with the other records of sale for six years.3

Any person, firm or corporation selling firearms (except wholesale dealers selling to licensed retail dealers) must maintain a register of the sales of all firearms.4 The section requires that at the time of sale, the seller record the following in the register:

  • The date of sale;
  • The name, age and residence of the purchaser; and
  • The caliber, make, model, and manufacturer’s number on the firearm.5

This register must be open “at all reasonable hours for the mandatory monthly inspection” by state and local police officials.6

 See our Maintaining Records of Gun Sales policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue. 

  1. R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-47-35(a)(2).[]
  2. Id. See R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-47-36 regarding sales to Rhode Island citizens from out-of-state. Note, however, that Federal law requires all out-of-state sales to Rhode Island residents to be made through a licensed firearms dealer in Rhode Island. 18 U.S.C. § 922(a)(3), (5), (b)(3).[]
  3. R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-47-35(a)(2).[]
  4. R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-47-40.[]
  5. R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-47-40(a).[]
  6. R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-47-40(a).[]