Rhode Island protects the right to bear arms under Section 22 of the state constitution, but this does not mean that everyone may carry a gun, or that you may always carry a gun wherever you like. You may carry a concealed weapon in your own house, property, or fixed place of business without a permit, but Rhode Island requires a safety certificate to openly carry a weapon anywhere else, and a concealed carry permit to carry a weapon concealed on (or near) you body or vehicle. (R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 11-47-8.) For more information on permitting laws, see Gun Permit Laws in Rhode Island.
The following sections explain who may not have a gun, and the circumstances or situations when carrying a gun is illegal.
People Who May Not Carry a Gun in Rhode Island
The following individuals are prohibited from carrying a weapon (open or concealed) in Rhode Island.
- people adjudicated as “mental incompetents, drug addicts, or drunkards” (R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 11-47-6.)
- people under the influence of drugs or alcohol (R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 11-47-52.)
- people younger than 21 years old (R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 11-47-11.)
Situations or Circumstances Where Carrying a Gun is Illegal
The following rules govern when you may not carry a gun in Rhode Island. They do not apply to peace officers, members of the armed services when on active duty, civilians employed by the federal government or military who are authorized to carry concealed weapons within the scope of their job, weapons merchants or repair people, or prison officers.
- Unless you are in your house or at your fixed place of business, or carrying an unloaded handgun to and from target practice; you may not openly carry a firearm without a safety certificate. (R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 11-47-11.)
- Unless you are in your house or at your fixed place of business, you may not carry concealed firearm on (or near) your body or vehicle unless you have a special concealed carry permit. (R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 11-47-11.)
- You may not carry a weapon onto school grounds. (R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 11-47-60.)
- You may not carry a weapon in or on a snow vehicle. (R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 31-3.2-9.)
Penalties for Gun Carry Violations
It is illegal to carry a weapon in Rhode Island without the applicable safety certificate or concealed carry license. Penalties include a fine of up to $10,000, at least one year (and up to ten years) in prison, or both. (R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 11-47-8.)
Penalties for carrying a firearm on school grounds include a fine of at least $500 (and up to $5,000), at least one year (and up to five years) in prison, or both. (R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 11-47-60.)
Getting Legal Help
The penalties for violating gun carry laws are serious. If you have any questions about whether you are allowed to carry a gun in Rhode Island, or if you are facing charges for a gun violation, consult a qualified criminal defense lawyer.