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Legal Information: Rhode Island

State Gun Laws

Laws current as of July 19, 2024

I have a temporary restraining order against the abuser. Can his/her gun be taken away?

Rhode Island law says that the judge can issue “any” temporary ex parte order that s/he believes is necessary to protect you from abuse.1 If you are thinking about asking for this to be included in your ex parte order, it may be helpful to list the known firearms that s/he has (or the possible access to firearms) in your petition and specifically request that the abuser be prohibited from possessing firearms while your temporary order is in effect.

If the judge does not include this restriction in your temporary order, then you may have to wait until a final order is issued.

1 RI Gen Laws § 8-8.1-4(a)(1)

Is there anything I can do to make it more likely that the abuser's gun is taken away when I get a restraining order?

Here are a few things that may help:

  • If the abuser has a gun, tell the judge how many guns s/he has, and if s/he has ever threatened you with a gun;
  • Ask the judge to specifically write in your restraining order that the abuser cannot own, buy or have a gun while the order is in effect; and
  • Before leaving the courthouse, check to make sure that the gun restriction is written on your order.

It also may be helpful if the judge explains what will happen to the abuser’s guns, who will take them, and where they will be held once you leave the courthouse. If the judge agrees to add language that the abuser cannot keep his/her guns while the restraining order is in effect, you may also want to ask that the judge:

  • Require the abuser to give his/her guns to the police, or require the police to go to the abuser’s house and get them;
  • Make it clear to both you and the abuser how long the guns will be kept away from the abuser; and
  • Order that the police notify you when the guns are returned to the abuser.

I have a restraining order against the abuser. Can s/he keep a gun or buy a new gun?

Under Rhode Island state law, as part of a final restraining order (after notice to the defendant and a hearing), the judge can order that the abuser hand over any firearms in his/her possession to the authorities and forbid him/her from buying or possessing firearms. One exception to this, however, is if the abuser is a law officer, active member of the military, or in any other position where s/he is required by law or departmental policy to carry departmental firearms while on duty. For these defendants, they can have a firearm only during the course of their employment but at all other times, it must be stored at the place of employment.1

In addition, Rhode Island’s gun laws make it illegal for anyone to possess or buy a firearm if there is a final domestic violence restraining order issued against him/her from either family court or district court.2

Lastly, federal laws, which apply to all states, restrict an abuser’s right to have a gun if you have a restraining order against him/her that meets certain requirements even if the judge does not specifically include on the order that s/he cannot have a gun. Go to the Federal Gun Laws page to get more information.

1 RI Gen. Laws §§ 8-8.1-3(a),(k); 15-15-3(a),(f)
2 RI Gen. Laws § 11-47-5(b)