A Brief Primer on Gun-Permitting Laws in Rhode Island

Commenter “Mike” noted that there is more to the Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin’s proposed firearms permitting bill (h/t Providence Journal) than which office handles an application. Here is a basic outline of the set of overlapping provisions that form the basics of Rhode Island’s firearms law, and how the Attorney General’s bill might change them.
1. A permit is required under section 11-47-8 of Rhode Island law (with some exceptions) for an individual to carry a pistol or revolver off of their own property …

(a) No person shall, without a license or permit issued as provided in §§ 11-47-11, 11-47-12 and 11-47-18, carry a pistol or revolver in any vehicle or conveyance or on or about his or her person whether visible or concealed, except in his or her dwelling house or place of business or on land possessed by him or her or as provided in §§ 11-47-9 and 11-47-10.
11-47-11 establishes rules for local government permit issuance, while 11-47-18 sets the rules for the Attorney General; we’ll come back to these two sections of the law in a moment. (These permits are frequently referred to as “concealed carry” permits, though the letter of the law is explicit about its application to non-concealed firearms too). 11-47-12 sets the fees for the permitting process.
2. 11-47-8 also contains provisions against the possession of machines guns and sawed-off shotguns regardless of location, but nothing regarding permitting of rifles or regular shotguns…
2A. …though section 11-47-51 makes it illegal for non-law enforcement non-military members to carry a loaded rifle or shotgun in a vehicle, while on a public road.
3. For a Rhode Island resident to legally purchase any pistol or revolver, section 11-47-35 of Rhode Island law requires a background check and completion of a safety course administered by the Department of Environmental Management, with exceptions for law enforcement and military personnel. To purchase a rifle or shotgun, the relevant section of the law is 11-47-35.2 which requires clearance of a background check conducted by the local police, unless the purchaser already has a locally-issued permit under 11-47-11 (11-47-18 isn’t mentioned), or is a member of law-enforcement or the military.
4. The firearms permitting changes proposed by the Attorney General as part of the “gun safety package” would repeal 11-47-11, stripping municipal authorities of the power to issue pistol or revolver “concealed carry” permits. This would change more than where paperwork needs to be sent. 11-47-11 says local authorities “shall issue” a concealed carry permit, once need has been demonstrated (though making determinations of criteria like “need” and “suitability” are left entirely to the municipal authority)…
(a) The licensing authorities of any city or town shall, upon application of any person twenty-one (21) years of age or over having a bona fide residence or place of business within the city or town…issue a license or permit to the person to carry concealed upon his or her person a pistol or revolver everywhere within this state for four (4) years from date of issue, if it appears that the applicant has good reason to fear an injury to his or her person or property or has any other proper reason for carrying a pistol or revolver, and that he or she is a suitable person to be so licensed.
11-47-18, the process that would remain if the AG’s bill became law, says the Attorney General “may issue” a permit, leaving room for discretion even after need is sufficiently demonstrated…
The attorney general may issue a license or permit to any person twenty one (21) years of age or over to carry a pistol or revolver, whether concealed or not, upon his or her person upon a proper showing of need, subject to the provisions of sections 11-47-12 and 11-47-15
4. Both the “may issue” in the Attorney General’s permitting process, and the additional requirements of need and suitability needed to reach the “shall issue” stage in the local process may need reevaluation in light of the United States Supreme Court decision in District of Columbia vs. Heller which affirmed that the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees an individual right., e.g. can something that is recognized as a right be made subject to a “may issue” decision of a government official?
5. And there may be even a higher hurdle for a “may issue” law to clear — section 22 of Article I of the Rhode Island Constitution, which makes no reference to the well-regulated militia mentioned in the U.S Constitution. Article I section 22 of the RI Constitution states simply…
Right to bear arms. — The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
…and is followed by a pointed declaration in section 24, that…
The rights guaranteed by this Constitution are not dependent on those guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States.
I’ll take up a few of the “rights”-related aspects of this issue in subsequent posts.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
29 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Phil Hirons, Jr.
Phil Hirons, Jr.
8 years ago

There was a court case concerning the AG’s latitude in issuing permits. The ruling was that the AG has wide discretion in his decision in part because 11-47-11 was a shall issue for the police chiefs (not always the chief but it’s an acceptable shorthand) so the plaintiff had other avenues to pursue a permit. Should this end run make into law I’d give it months if not weeks before it’s in the courts.

Dan
Dan
8 years ago

“May” provisions are essentially treated like they don’t exist by the courts. They are optional and therefore don’t provide any obligations whatsoever. This would be a huge change.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
8 years ago

(a) No person shall, without a license or permit issued as provided in §§ 11-47-11, 11-47-12 and 11-47-18, carry a pistol or revolver in any vehicle or conveyance or on or about his or her person whether visible or concealed, except in his or her dwelling house or place of business or on land possessed by him or her or as provided in §§ 11-47-9 and 11-47-10.
My property is divided by streets. Can I cross the streets without a permit?

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
8 years ago

(a) No person shall, without a license or permit issued as provided in §§ 11-47-11, 11-47-12 and 11-47-18, carry a pistol or revolver in any vehicle or conveyance or on or about his or her person whether visible or concealed, except in his or her dwelling house or place of business or on land possessed by him or her or as provided in §§ 11-47-9 and 11-47-10.
My property is divided by streets. Can I cross the streets without a permit?

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
8 years ago

The safety test given by DEM for which a “blue card”is issued is not hard to pass-but get this-after 25 years in law enforcement during which I was armed and 4 1/2 years active duty in the military,I needed to get a “blue card” after I retired in order to buy a handgun-that is just stupid.

Mike678
Mike678
8 years ago

The democrats on the Exeter town council just voted to deny local permitting for CCW and send all people from that area to the AG’s office. Incremental removal of your second amendment rights has begun in earnest…

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
8 years ago

I guess there are other people, besides me, in tin foil hats.
“On Wednesday, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) took to the Senate floor and warned that universal background checks could lead to a national registry system for guns.
“Some of the proposals, like for example- universal background checks- would allow the federal government to surveil law-abiding citizens who exercise their Constitutional rights. One of the provisions we expect to see in the bill based on what we saw in the Judiciary Committee- on which I sit- would allow the Attorney General of the United States (Eric Holder) to promulgate regulations that could lead to a national registry system for guns. Something my constituents in Utah are very concerned about, and understandably so,” said Sen. Lee.
Lee also said that the government has no place monitoring the legal exercise of any Constitutional right a citizen chooses to exercise:
“You see, the federal government has no business monitoring when or how often you go to church; what books and newspapers you read; who you vote for; your health conditions; what you eat for breakfast; and the details of your private life– including your lawful exercise of your rights protected by the Second Amendment and other provisions of the Bill of Rights.”

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
8 years ago

Posted by Mike678: “The democrats on the Exeter town council just voted to deny local permitting for CCW and send all people from that area to the AG’s office. Incremental removal of your second amendment rights has begun in earnest…”
Mike, you may be right. But, I suspect a “transfer of potential liability”. For better, or worse, I am sure the AG’s office will assign a low priority.

Sammy in "gun crazy' AZ
Sammy in "gun crazy' AZ
8 years ago

Mississippi Gun deaths per 100,000: 18.3
Arizona Gun deaths per 100,000: 15.3
Alaska Gun deaths per 100,000: 17.6
Arkansas Gun deaths per 100,000: 15.8
Connecticut Gun deaths per 100,000: 4.3
Rhode Island Gun deaths per 100,000: 3.5
Massachusetts Gun deaths per 100,000: 3.6
Hawaii, Gun deaths per 100,000: 2.8

jgardner
jgardner
8 years ago

“if it appears that the applicant has good reason to fear an injury to his or her person or property”
Rhetorical question, but whatever happened to the rights lie with the people and it’s the gov’s duty to show cause to strip that right?

Dan
Dan
8 years ago

Sammy – How many gun deaths per 100,000 in the great liberal cities of New York? Baltimore? Washington, DC? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Begone, troll.

Sammy in Arizona
Sammy in Arizona
8 years ago

The Second Amendment has been perverted into something the founding fathers would be appalled by today
I for one look forward to the repeal of the 2nd Amendment

Sammy in Gun Crazy Arizona
Sammy in Gun Crazy Arizona
8 years ago

CITATION…www.huffingtonnews.com
“The father of a six-year-old Newtown massacre victim was heckled and shouted down by dozens of gun-nut audience members during a hearing by the Gun Violence Prevention Working Group. Neil Heslin pleaded in his emotional testimony for lawmakers to improve mental health options and ban assault weapons like the one Adam Lanza used to murder his son Jesse,and 19 other first graders and six adults. “I still can’t see why any civilian, anybody in this room in fact, needs weapons of that sort. You’re not going to use them for hunting, even for home protection,” Heslin said
Why do righties hate freedom of speach?

Mike678
Mike678
8 years ago

Warrington,
There is no liability to the towns/cities–the law is specific on that fact. It’s one reason why these localities, I suspect, are must issue–if they had discretion, then that could open them up to lawsuits…
As to our favorite troll, it is interesting to note that of the ~30,000 deaths by firearms last year, 20,000 were suicides. Additionally, there were more deaths due to drug overdoses. Yet progressives want to liberalize drugs. Go figure…

Dan
Dan
8 years ago

Sammy – It is literally impossible for a private individual to violate one’s “freedom of speech.” The First Amendment is a limitation on government. Why do you hate logic? I repeat: begone, troll.

Monique
Monique(@monique-chartier)
Editor
8 years ago

“Both the “may issue” in the Attorney General’s permitting process, and the additional requirements of need and suitability needed to reach the “shall issue” stage in the local process may need reevaluation …”
Rep Chippendale was on the Helen Glover Show yesterday morning. He said that he told the RI Attorney General that if this bill becomes law, it will almost certainly trigger a lawsuit because it violates Rhode Island’s Constitution, mainly for the reason that Andrew cites: it would change “shall” to “may” issue a permit.
Rep Chippendale said that the AG’s reaction to the prospect of such a lawsuit was “Oh well”. I’m happy to be corrected if this was not an exact quote by the AG. In view of his presence at that press conference, however, this is clearly his attitude about the bill and the potential of a constitutional challenge.
Isn’t an AG supposed to uphold and enforce the law? Is there any more weighty or significant law than our Constitution?

Dan
Dan
8 years ago

New Hampshire Attorney General – Graduate of Tier 1 Law School
Massachusetts Attorney General – Graduate of Tier 1 Law School
Vermont Attorney General – Graduate of Tier 1 Law School
Connecticut Attorney General – Graduate of Tier 1 Law School
New York Attorney General – Graduate of Tier 1 Law School
Rhode Island Attorney General – Graduate of Tier 4 (bottom-tier) Law School

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
8 years ago

Mike 678: “Warrington,
There is no liability to the towns/cities–the law is specific on that fact.”
Mike, I didn’t mean “strict liability”. I meant finger pointing at an unpaid, or low paid, board if they issued a permit to someone who later went nutty. They have nothing to lose by passing off responsibility. Their constituents might not see it that way.

Mike678
Mike678
8 years ago

Warring ton,
If all were concerned about finger-pointing, nothing would get done. Do people point fingers at the DMV when they give a license to a person who then drives intoxicated? That kills a family of 5 driving the wrong way on the interstate? No…because they give a license to all that meet a standard set by the state..shall issue.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
8 years ago

Mike 678: “Do people point fingers at the DMV when they give a license to a person who then drives intoxicated? That kills a family of 5 driving the wrong way on the interstate? No…because they give a license to all that meet a standard set by the state..shall issue.”
Mike if the media got ahold of such an incident as you mention and “searched for answers” as they did with the Sandy Hook incident, there would be a lot of finger pointing. Truth is, such incidents are viewed as “normal” and unavoidable. Relative to someone who uses a gun, drivers with multiple DUI offenses get a slap on the wrist.
Small town boards receive no credit for things that “go right” and a lot of grief for things that “go wrong”. They are largely unpaid and have no appetite for grief.
Please don’t misunderstand my position on this matter, still it is the government we have. People who essentally volunteer to serve on boards do not want any “issues”.

Tommy Cranston
Tommy Cranston
8 years ago

Sammy:
I for one look forward to your party making that abolition part of its platform.

Chris
Chris
8 years ago

What about this section: § 11-47-10 License or permit not required to carry to target range. – No license or permit shall be required for the purpose of carrying or transporting any pistol or revolver from one’s home or place of business to a bona fide target practice range, nor from a bona fide target practice range to one’s home or place of business, to engage in any shoot meet, or practice, provided that the pistol or revolver is broken down, unloaded and carried as openly as circumstances will permit, or provided that the pistols or revolvers are unloaded and secured in a separate container suitable for the purpose.

Chris
Chris
8 years ago

What about this section: § 11-47-10 License or permit not required to carry to target range. – No license or permit shall be required for the purpose of carrying or transporting any pistol or revolver from one’s home or place of business to a bona fide target practice range, nor from a bona fide target practice range to one’s home or place of business, to engage in any shoot meet, or practice, provided that the pistol or revolver is broken down, unloaded and carried as openly as circumstances will permit, or provided that the pistols or revolvers are unloaded and secured in a separate container suitable for the purpose.

n1bsbri
n1bsbri
8 years ago

” 11-47-11 says local authorities “shall issue” a concealed carry permit, once need has been demonstrated (though making determinations of criteria like “need” and “suitability” are left entirely to the municipal authority)…”
Permits under 11-47-11 do not require showing “need”. The statute requires a “good reason to fear injury…” OR “has any other proper reason”.
The “OR” is important. In Mosby v. Devine (RI Supreme Court, 2001), Judge Flanders stated in his opinion that being an avid gun collector was a “proper reason” to be licensed. I believe that sets a fairly low standard for a proper reason.

helen
helen
8 years ago

Are we free human beings or not?
Our right to defend our lives,our families,our property,our state and our country with firearms or whatever weapons necessary are inherent. That’s the deal.
Those are protected rights. And even if the people in the gov. says we don’t have those rights,we still do.

helen
helen
8 years ago

Gosh,my typing. Sorry. Says should be say.

helen
helen
8 years ago

Sammy,those who died in the Ct. massacre had their right to life ,liberty and the pursuit of happiness utterly destroyed because the Second Amendment promised,contractual right of the adults charged with the children’s care was egregiously violated.

helen
helen
8 years ago

Here’s a personal story about our state’s prohibitions on self defense.
I’m a grandmother with some health issues. Several years ago,I was in my favorite supermarket’s parking lot just after noon on a sunny nice day.
The store had a sale going on and I wanted to take advantage of it,so I had numerous bags in my cart as I loaded them into my car.
I’m fussy about how I pack in my groceries,worried that nothing will get dented or squashed so I was distracted.
Well, at one point I turned and there was a young man holding up two of my bags. I didn’t hear him come up behind me and there he stood holding two of my bags up with a weird little grin on his face.
He said he worked for the store and he was there to help me. I had never had anyone do that before or since.
I glanced around and saw no one in sight and I was scared. He was creepy and didn’t have on store ID.
When I got home I was still so unnerved that I looked up self defense on the internet.
Almost all of the experts said to carry a little spray thing of pepper
spray. But that’s illegal here. You see it could be used by criminals against intended victims or against police.
That’s what they told us when they made it illegal.

helen
helen
8 years ago

State Constitutions can expand protections of the people’s rights,but never restrict. State Constitutions must harmonize with the Federal. For example,a state can’t put in a Constitutional amendment legalizing involuntary servitude without due process.

Show your support for Anchor Rising with a 25-cent-per-day subscription.