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Legal Information: Rhode Island

State Gun Laws

Laws current as of July 19, 2024

If the abuser has been convicted of a crime, can s/he keep or buy a gun?

Rhode Island state law says that a person cannot have or buy a firearm if s/he has been convicted of or has pled “no contest” to certain crimes. Firearm possession if prohibited if the abuser:

  • has been convicted of a “crime of violence” in Rhode Island or elsewhere. “Crimes of violence” include any of the following crimes or an attempt to commit any of them:

    • murder;
    • manslaughter;
    • rape;
    • first or second degree sexual assault;
    • first or second degree child molestation;
    • kidnapping;
    • first or second degree arson;
    • mayhem;
    • robbery;
    • burglary;
    • breaking and entering;
    • any felony violation involving the illegal manufacture, sale, or delivery of a controlled substance; possession with intent to manufacture, sell, or deliver a controlled substance; or conspiracy to commit manufacture, sell, or deliver a controlled substance;
    • assault with a dangerous weapon;
    • assault or battery involving grave bodily injury;
    • assault with intent to commit any offense punishable as a felony;
    • conviction of a domestic violence offense punishable as a felony;1
  • was convicted of –or pled “no contest” (“nolo contendere”) to– in Rhode Island or elsewhere:
  • is a fugitive from justice;3
  • is in “community confinement” or otherwise subject to electronic surveillance or monitoring devices as a condition of parole.4

Also, federal laws, which apply to all states, restrict an abuser’s right to have a gun if s/he has been convicted of a felony or domestic violence misdemeanor. Go to Federal Gun Laws to get more information.

1 RI Gen. Laws §§ 11-47-5(a); 11-47-2(5)
2 RI Gen. Laws §§ 11-47-5(a); 12-29-5; 12-29-2
3 ​RI Gen. Laws § 11-47-5(a)
4 RI Gen. Laws § 11-47-5(c)

How can I find out if the abuser has been convicted of a crime?

Misdemeanor and felony records are open to the public, but they are not always easy to access.  If you know the exact courthouse where the abuser may have been convicted, you can go to the courthouse and ask the clerk of court for access to those records.

Federal law specifically prohibits possession of a firearm if the person is convicted of any felony or of a domestic violence misdemeanor. Criminal records that would make a person ineligible to purchase a firearm are also kept in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).  However, no one other than law enforcement officials and licensed firearm sellers are allowed to search the NICS.  Your local police department may be willing to search NICS for you if you ask, but they are not required to do so.

To read more about the NICS, please see the question What will happen if the abuser tries to purchase a gun?