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Rhode Island generally requires people who wish to acquire firearms to complete a specified application form at the time that they are applying to purchase or acquire the firearm from any person, including sellers or transferors who are not licensed gun dealers.1 (People with a license to carry concealed handguns are generally exempt from this requirement).2 The application form includes specified information about the seller and transferee, the date of the application, the number of firearms to be purchased, and an affidavit that must be signed indicating that the transferee certifies that they have read and are familiar with Rhode Island’s gun safety laws.3

The prospective transferee must complete and sign the application form in triplicate and deliver the form to the seller,4 who must then on the date of application sign and submit the original and one copy of the application form 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 their place of business or, in rarer cases, the the Rhode Island State Police.5 The law enforcement authority then conducts a background check on the prospective transferee.6 The third copy of the application form must be sent by the seller via registered mail within seven days to the Rhode Island Attorney General.7

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.8 The original application will be stamped as received by the background check authority and returned to the seller, who is required to retain the original copy of the application with other records of sale for six years.9

Rhode Island law separately requires any person, firm or corporation selling firearms (except wholesale dealers selling to licensed retail dealers) to maintain a register of all firearm sales.10 This law requires that at the time of sale, the seller record the following in their register:

  • The date of sale;
  • The name, age and residence of the purchaser; and
  • The caliber, make, model, and manufacturer’s number or other mark of identification on the firearm.11

This register must be open “at all reasonable hours for the mandatory monthly inspection” by state and local police officials.12


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  1. R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-47-35(a)(1); 11-47-35.2(a)(1).[]
  2. See R.I. Gen. Laws § § 11-47-35.1 and 11-47-35.2(c) regarding exceptions for people with a license or permit to carry concealed handguns.[]
  3. Legislation enacted in 2021 amended this form to require information regarding the number of firearms to be purchased. See 2021 RI HB 5386.[]
  4. R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-47-35(a)(1); 11-47-35.2(a)(1).[]
  5. R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-47-35(a)(2); 11-47-35.2(b)(2).[]
  6. Id. (“It shall be the duty of the police authority to whom the duplicate copy of the application form is sent or delivered to make a background check of the applicant to ascertain whether he or she falls under the provisions of § 11-47-5§ 11-47-6§ 11-47-7, or § 11-47-23“).[]
  7. 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).[]
  8. R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-47-35(a)(2); 11-47-35.2(b)(2).[]
  9. Id.[]
  10. R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-47-40.[]
  11. R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-47-40(a).[]
  12. R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-47-40(a).[]