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Línea Nacional para la Violencia Doméstica: 1-800-799-7233 o (TTY) 1-800-787-3224

Conozca la Ley: Rhode Island

ACTUALIZADA 26 de mayo, 2017

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Below is information about state gun laws in Rhode Island.  However, in addition to these state-specific laws, there are also federal gun laws that could apply.  To fully understand all of the legal protections available, it is important that you also read the Federal Gun Laws pages. strongly recommends that you get in touch with a domestic violence advocate or lawyer in your community for more information on gun laws in your area. To find an agency, please go to the RI Where to Find Help page. 

The Abuser Isn’t Supposed to Have a Gun…Now What?

arribaIf the abuser's gun is taken away as part of my restraining order, what will happen to it?

If the abuser is ordered to surrender his/her firearms as part of your restraining order, the judge will order him/her to surrender the possession of the firearm(s) to:

  • someone who is not related to the defendant by blood, marriage, and is not an intimate partner* (and this person is prohibited by law from returning the firearms to the abuser at any point while the restraining order is still valid);**   
  • the Rhode Island state police or local police department; or
  • a licensed gun dealer.*  

If the abuser is present at the restraining order hearing, s/he must surrender of the firearms within twenty-four hours of the judge issuing the order.  If the abuser is not present at the hearing, s/he has forty-eight hours after being served with the order to surrender the firearms.   If the abuser chooses to surrender the firearms to someone s/he knows or to a licensed gun dealer, s/he has to file a receipt with the court within 72 hours, showing that firearms were surrendered.*  

* RI Gen Laws §§ 8-8.1-3(d); 15-15-3(d)
** RI Gen Laws §§ 8-8.1-3(b); 15-15-3(b)

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arribaWho do I notify if I think the abuser should not have a gun?

If you think the abuser is violating state firearm laws, you can call your local police or sheriff department or the state police.  If you think the abuser is violating federal firearm laws, you can call the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF). 

You can find contact information for sheriff departments in your area on our RI Sheriff Departments page.

You can find ATF field offices in Rhode Island on the ATF website.  For reporting illegal firearm activity, a person can also call 1-800-ATF-GUNS (1-800-283-4867).  Many ATF offices have victim advocates on staff (called “victim/witness coordinators”) and so perhaps you may ask to speak one of these advocates if you are having a hard time connecting with (or receiving a call back from) an ATF officer. 

A local domestic violence organization in your area may also be able to answer your questions and assist you in talking to the necessary law enforcement officials. You will find contact information for organizations in your area on our RI State and Local Programs page. 

Note: Generally, the abuser does not have to have knowledge of the law in order to be arrested for breaking the law.  If the abuser has or buys a gun in violation of the law, the abuser can be arrested, whether or not s/he knows that s/he was in violation of the law.* 

United States v. Lippman, 369 F. 3d 1039 (8th Cir. 2004); United States v. Henson, 55 F. Supp. 2d 528 (S.D. W.V. 1999)

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arriba¿Qué pasará si el abusador intenta comprar un arma?

Antes de comprar un arma de fuego de un/a vendedor/a licenciado/a, todos los/las compradores/as deben someterse a un chequeo de antecedentes penales realizado por Centro Nacional Instantáneo sobre Antecedentes (NICS por sus siglas en inglés).  Si el/la abusador/a tiene una orden de protección calificada en su contra o, si ha sido sentenciado/a por un delito grave o un delito menos grave por violencia doméstica intrafamiliar en cualquier estado, esos registros deben estar en el NICS, lo cual debería imposibilitarle a el/la abusador/a comprar un arma de fuego.  No todos los estados tienen un sistema automatizado de registro, lo que dificulta el proceso de verificación de antecedentes penales, por lo tanto, algunos criminales y abusadores/as logran burlar el sistema.  También es importante saber que no se necesita una verificación de antecedentes penales para ventas privadas y a través del Internet.

Si el/la abusador/a pudo comprar un arma y usted entiende que él/ella no debe tener una legalmente, usted puede avisarle a la policía y pedir que le quiten el arma y quizás ellos/as lo/a investigarán.  Generalmente no es buena idea asumir que porque el/la abusador/a pudo comprar un arma, es legal que la tenga. 

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arribaWhat is the penalty for violating state and federal firearm laws?

In Rhode Island, the penalty for possessing a gun if any of the following circumstances apply can be incarceration for 2 to 10 years:

  • has  been convicted of a "crime of violence" in Rhode Island or elsewhere;
  • is in "community confinement" or otherwise subject to electronic surveillance or monitoring devices as a condition of parole; or
  • is a fugitive from justice.*

If you have a restraining order against the abuser and s/he fails to surrender his/her firearm after being ordered to do so by the judge, s/he can be found in contempt.  The penalty for contempt, which is a misdemeanor crime, can be a fine of up to $1,000, imprisonment for up to 1 year, or both.**

In addition, anyone who owns, has or buys a gun in violation of the federal firearm laws (which prohibit gun possession by someone who is the respondent on a restraining order or who was convicted of a felony or domestic violence misdemeanor) can be punished by a fine, jail time for up to 10 years, or both.***  Go to Federal Gun Laws for more information.

* RI Gen Laws § 11-47-5(a),(c),(d)
** RI Gen Laws §§ 15-15-3(h)(1),(i)(1); 8-8.1-3(g),(j)
*** See 18 USC § 924(a)(2)

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