Rhode Island law provides that:
A person who stores or leaves on premises under his or her control a loaded firearm and who knows or reasonably should know that a child is likely to gain access to the firearm without the permission of the child’s parent or guardian, and the child obtains access to the firearm and causes injury to himself or herself or any other person with the firearm, is guilty of the crime of criminal storage of a firearm….1
“Child” is defined as a person under age 16.2
This prohibition does not apply if:
- Access to the firearm is gained through illegal entry of any premises or an illegal taking of the firearm from the premises without the owner’s permission;
- The firearm is kept in a locked container or other location which a reasonable person would believe to be secure;
- The firearm is carried on the person or in such close proximity that the individual can readily retrieve and use it;
- The firearm is locked with a locking device;
- The child acts in self-defense or defense of another person; or
- The person keeping the firearm on his or her premises has no reasonable expectation that a child is likely to be on the premises.3
If a child allegedly violating Rhode Island’s safe storage provisions is a parent or guardian of a child who is injured or dies due to an unintentional shooting, the Attorney General’s office, in deciding whether to prosecute the violation, must consider the impact of the injury or death on the alleged violator.4 A parent or guardian of a child who is injured or dies from an unintentional shooting will be prosecuted only in those instances in which the parent or guardian behaved in a grossly negligent manner.5
State regulations may also impose safe storage requirements under certain circumstances.
For related laws, see the Rhode Island Locking Devices section.
See our Child Access Prevention policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.