See our Prohibited Purchasers Generally policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Federal law prohibits certain persons from purchasing or possessing firearms, such as felons, certain domestic abusers, and certain people with a history of mental illness.

Rhode Island has adopted its own classes of prohibited persons, and incorporated some federal prohibitions as state offenses. Subject to limited exceptions, no person shall purchase, own, carry, transport, or possess a firearm if he or she:

  • Has been convicted of, or entered a no contest plea to, “a crime of violence”;
  • Is a fugitive from justice;
  • Has been convicted of a domestic violence offense that is punishable as a felony or of specified domestic violence misdemeanors, including simple assault and violation of a protective order;1
  • Is under guardianship, treatment or confinement “by virtue of being a mental incompetent”; ((R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-47-6. Unless the person has been pronounced criminally insane by competent medical authority, after the duration of five years, the person may apply to purchase a firearm upon presentation of an affidavit issued by competent medical authority stating that the person is mentally stable and a “proper person” to possess a gun.2
  • Has been adjudicated or is under treatment or confinement as a drug addict; or
  • Is an illegal alien.3

Rhode Island also generally prohibits any person under age 18 from possessing or using any firearm or ammunition.4 See the Minimum Age to Purchase / Possess Firearms in Rhode Island section.

A 2017 Rhode Island law5 also now prohibits people subject to domestic violence protective orders from possessing or acquiring firearms if the order was issued following notice to the respondent and a hearing.6 Previously, courts were authorized but not required to prohibit people subject to protective orders from acquiring or possessing firearms. See the Rhode Island Domestic Violence and Firearms section for more information.


  1. See R.I. Gen. Laws § 12-29-5. Also, visit the Rhode Island Domestic Violence and Firearms section for more detailed information. ⤴︎
  2. R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-47-6. ⤴︎
  3. R.I. Gen. Laws §§ 11-47-5 – 11-47-7. ⤴︎
  4. R.I. Gen Laws § 11-47-32. ⤴︎
  5. See 2017 RI HB 5510 and its identical Senate counterpart, 2017 RI SB 405. ⤴︎
  6. R.I. Gen. Laws §§ 11-47-5(b), 8-8.1-3(a)(4), (c). ⤴︎