Constitutional Right to Keep and Bear Arms?
Yes. The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
Technically, Rhode Island is a shall-issue state, meaning authorities are required by law to issue carry permits to all qualified applicants. However, the state attorney general’s office has used its discretion to deny permits on multiple occasions. Qualified applicants must be at least 21 years of age, successfully complete a range test using a firearm at least as big as the gun the applicant intends to carry. Applicants in Rhode Island must also demonstrate a need to carry a handgun.
Permits are denied to anyone prohibited from possessing a gun under Rhode Island law, which includes the usual list of persons — those convicted of crimes of violence, fugitives from justice, anyone who has been treated or confined due to being “mentally incompetent,” illegal aliens and anyone has been treated for habitual drug use or drunkenness, unless they have been declared “cured” for at least five years. Rhode Island also denies permits to anyone who cannot demonstrate a “need” to carry a gun.
Application is made through the chief of police in the applicant’s town of residence. Permits are issued by the state attorney general. They are valid for four years, at a cost of $40.
Rhode Island’s permits are honored by the following states: Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Vermont.
Rhode Island does not honor permits from any other state.
Rhode Island has a self-defense law based on the castle doctrine and is a “stand your ground” state, meaning crime victims do not have a duty to retreat before using physical or deadly force against attackers. The law extends the right of self-defense from the home to any place a victim has a lawful right to be.
The state’s statute reads:
In the event that any person shall die or shall sustain a personal injury in any way or for any cause while in the commission of any criminal offense enumerated in §§ 11-8-2 – 11-8-6, it shall be rebuttably presumed as a matter of law in any civil or criminal proceeding that the owner, tenant, or occupier of the place where the offense was committed acted by reasonable means in self-defense and in the reasonable belief that the person engaged in the criminal offense was about to inflict great bodily harm or death upon that person or any other individual lawfully in the place where the criminal offense was committed. There shall be no duty on the part of an owner, tenant, or occupier to retreat from any person engaged in the commission of any criminal offense enumerated in §§ 11-8-2 – 11-8-6.
In addition to a constitutional provision for the right to keep and bear arms, Rhode Island has a state firearms preemption law that prevents cities or counties from enacting gun laws more restrictive than state law. The state also has a range protection law extending protection to gun firing ranges.
Permission to carry guns is granted with carry permits, which are issued to persons age 21 or over on a “shall issue” basis. However, any form of carry is prohibited for those without a carry permit, except for those involved in lawful hunting or sport shooting activities.
- Gun bans: None.
- Waiting period for gun purchases: There is a seven-day waiting period for handgun and long gun purchases.
- Licenses or permits required to purchase guns: A state-issued handgun safety card is required for handgun purchases. The permit is obtained after successful completion of a hunter safety course or a pistol safety course.
- Registration of guns required? No.