Rhode Island Concealed Carry Has Gotten Easier
Only a few states in New England are known for making it easy on concealed carriers, but Rhode Island concealed carry has become much easier in recent years. This is largely thanks to a court case that altered the licensing protocol.
While not as easy as, say, Idaho concealed carry, Rhode Island is not as carry-averse as some of the Ocean State's neighbors, such as Massachusetts.
How Concealed Carry in Rhode Island Is Getting Easier
Until recently, concealed carry in Rhode Island was not an easy thing, you need a license if you want to carry.
However, getting the license was (and still is, in a sense; more on that later) a whole other matter entirely.
The reason why?
Up until 2015, the law on the books was that an applicant could apply for a CPL through the local police department or the office of the Attorney General. The method of issuance for the latter is "may issue," meaning that the AG's office decided whether a person got the permit or not, and could decide that they weren't granting the permit even IF the applicant met all the requirements.
Though Rhode Islanders could technically apply through the local police, many jurisdictions would simply defer to the AG's office, which didn't grant many permits and didn't need to show cause in case of a denial.
However, in that year, a court case went to the Rhode Island Supreme Court, in which the plaintiff (one Norman Gadomski) applied for and was denied a permit by the East Providence chief of police, according to the Providence Journal. Gadomski decided that since he technically met all the requirements, the denial was too arbitrary to let stand and took the East Providence police to court.
The court ruled that permits can still be denied, but cause must be shown to deny a permit, in effect making Rhode Island a "shall-issue" state when one applies through local police - and thus, easier for citizens to get a permit.
The court also had the foresight to tell local PDs that they can't sit on permit applications and get around the issue, either.
Why You Need A Rhode Island Concealed Carry Permit
A Rhode Island concealed carry permit is absolutely necessary, as carrying a handgun - whether open or concealed - isn't allowed without one.
The state has a training requirement, including a live-fire component. The live-fire component includes a course of scored fire, in which a person has to qualify (pass a minimum score) shooting with the caliber they intend to carry. However, a shooter can carry a smaller caliber gun without having to qualify with that caliber; so if a person passes the exam with a .45 ACP - such as a 1911 they can carry any other gun, so long as it's chambered in .45 ACP or smaller.
Firearms can be transported, but cannot be transported while loaded without a permit.
How Nonresidents can Concealed Carry In Rhode Island
So, it's not exactly a walk in the park to get a license to concealed carry in Rhode Island if one is a resident. What about non-residents?
Non-residents of Rhode Island can transport a loaded firearm in their vehicle while traveling through Rhode Island, so long as they have a concealed carry permit from their state of residence or another state.
If a non-resident wants to carry outside of their car?
The short answer is get a non-resident permit or forget it. Non-resident permits are available, but unless one is going to be in the state long enough to actually get the permit (say you've just moved there and are waiting to qualify for residency) one might as well plan to not carry. The travel provision is the only way in which a permit is recognized from another state.
A person used to constitutional carry might consider Rhode Island downright inhospitable to carrying firearms, but the new law makes it more accommodating than neighboring and nearby states such as Massachusetts and New York.
About The Author
Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests include camping, hunting, concealed carry, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible..