How to Sell a Gun in Rhode Island

Selling a gun in Rhode Island can often seem challenging, given the numerous state and federal laws that regulate these transactions. As the "Ocean State", Rhode Island maintains specific rules for firearms transactions that must be diligently adhered to. If you're a resident looking to sell a gun in Rhode Island, or if you wish to conduct a firearms transaction within this state, it's crucial to fully comprehend the legal intricacies tied to firearms.

Written by:
Isaiah Miller
June 10, 2023
minutes read
Map of Rhode Island

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Rhode Island's Firearm Laws

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Before you even consider selling a firearm, it's crucial to familiarize yourself with the state's firearm laws. This involves understanding who can purchase a firearm, what the requirements are, and which procedures need to be followed.

Firearm Purchase Requirements in Rhode Island

In Rhode Island, age restrictions apply to firearm purchases. The buyer must be 18 years old to purchase rifles, shotguns, and ammunition. For handguns, the age requirement is higher; buyers must be at least 21 years old.

Permit or Registration Requirement

Rhode Island law does not universally mandate permits or registration for firearm ownership, but does enforce other stipulations. These include a requirement for background checks during all firearm sales, and purchasers must meet eligibility criteria defined by state and federal laws. Furthermore, while general ownership might not require a permit, carrying a concealed firearm in the state does require a specific permit.

Purchasing from a Licensed Dealer

Buying from a licensed dealer involves a few critical steps:

Completion of a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms form 4473 (firearms transaction form).

ATF's Website Form 4473- Firearms Transaction Record Revisions

Undergoing a National Instant Criminal Background Check System check performed by the firearms dealer.

FBI's website Firearms Checks (NICS)

An appeal process is available if the check disallows the sale for no warranted reason.

The Process of Selling a Gun to a Private Party in Rhode Island

While Rhode Island law permits private firearm sales, there are procedures and restrictions that both parties must adhere to. Keep in mind that Federal law still applies.

Required Waiting Period and Background Check

All firearm sales, including pistols, revolvers, rifles, and shotguns, necessitate a seven-day waiting period and a background check, even for private party sales. This ensures that the buyer meets all legal requirements for firearm ownership.

Compliance with Section 11-47-35: Sale of Concealable Weapons

When selling a concealable firearm, the seller must adhere to specific regulations:

  • The firearm must be unloaded and securely wrapped at the time of delivery.
  • The buyer must complete and sign an application form and present a pistol/revolver safety certificate.
  • The seller must send the original and duplicate copies of the application to the relevant police authority.
  • Exceptions to Section 11-47-35: Exempted Persons

Certain individuals, such as full-time members of the state police, state marshal’s office, city or town police departments, state marshals, correctional officers, or persons licensed under § 11-47-11, are exempt from the requirements of Section 11-47-35.

Compliance with Section 11-47-35.2: Sale of Rifles/Shotguns

The process for selling rifles and shotguns is similar to that for pistols and revolvers. Just like with the sale of concealable firearms, certain personnel (e.g., full-time members of the state police, city or town police departments, and certain licensed individuals) are exempt from these requirements.


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Federal and State Restrictions on Firearm Ownership

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Even though Rhode Island allows firearm ownership without permits or registration, both state and federal laws impose restrictions on who can own firearms.

Federal Restrictions

Federal law bars firearm ownership for a wide range of individuals, including:

  • Persons convicted of a felony or misdemeanor where the crime has a maximum imprisonment term exceeding 1 year, even if the actual term didn't exceed 1 year.
  • Persons with a felony or out-of-state misdemeanor warrant.
  • Persons under felony pretrial release.
  • Persons convicted of misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence, those under restraining/stalking/protection orders, and those with a mental health adjudication or commitment.
  • Those using or addicted to controlled substances, including marijuana.
  • Persons dishonorably discharged from the armed forces.
  • Persons who have renounced U.S. citizenship.
  • Illegal aliens.

Rhode Island's 2023 Firearms Legislation: An Overview

In recent years, firearm legislation has been a topic of ongoing debate. The state of Rhode Island, like many others, continually revises its laws in this domain to ensure public safety and address new challenges. This article aims to provide an overview of the significant updates in Rhode Island's firearm legislation for 2023.

The Ban on Large Capacity Feeding Devices

First on the list of amendments is the ban on large-capacity feeding devices (Public Laws 2022 Ch. 99). This law prohibits the use and possession of devices capable of holding or expanding to accommodate more than ten rounds of ammunition. This law aims to regulate the capacity of firearms, thereby potentially limiting their destructive potential. The implications of violating this law are severe, with violators risking up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, and the forfeiture of the feeding device.

Restrictions on Open Carry of Loaded Shotguns and Rifles

Next, Rhode Island has enacted legislation banning the open carry of loaded shotguns and rifles on public roadways (Public Laws 2022 Ch. 133/Public Laws 2022 Ch. 134). While this law does have exemptions for certain personnel, its broad implications mean that openly carrying these weapons in public is largely prohibited. Violations of this law may result in similar penalties to the previous, namely up to five years in prison and/or a fine of $5,000.

A Higher Minimum Age for Purchasing Firearms and Ammunition

In another significant step towards ensuring responsible gun ownership, Rhode Island has increased the minimum age for purchasing firearms and ammunition to 21 years old. This development reflects an ongoing trend in many states to promote maturity and responsibility in gun owners. Violations of laws regulating firearm and ammunition sales can result in fines not exceeding $1,000, imprisonment not exceeding five years, or both.

A Word on Legal Interpretation

This summary of the 2023 Rhode Island firearm legislation changes is intended for general information purposes and does not constitute legal advice. Furthermore, it does not confer any rights or impose any additional requirements beyond those set out in the existing laws. For more detailed information, individuals are advised to consult the full text of the laws or seek professional legal advice.

The Attorney General is committed to keeping this information as current as possible and will provide updates as necessary. This practice is to ensure that residents of Rhode Island are informed about the laws that govern their rights and responsibilities concerning firearms.


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Tips to Sell Safely and Get the Best Price

To ensure a successful sale, make sure your firearm is in good working condition, clean, and well-maintained. Provide an accurate description of the firearm, including its make, model, caliber, and accessories. Prepare a comprehensive bill of sale and include relevant documentation, such as receipts and warranty information. Finally, complete the sale and transfer ownership in a legally compliant manner by adhering to all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations.

Cleaning and Maintenance:

It's a good idea to ensure your firearm is in good working condition and properly cleaned before selling it. This can also increase the firearm's value.

Photo of a rifle in a case.

Accurate Description:

When preparing your firearm for a private sale, you should aim to provide an accurate description of the firearm. This includes information about the make, model, caliber, and any accessories that come with the firearm. An accurate description will help ensure a smooth transaction with your ultimate buyer.


Prepare a complete bill of sale that protects both parties in case of disputes, including the following information: sale date, buyer and seller information, and firearm details (such as make, model, and serial number). Additionally, be sure to include any relevant paperwork, such as purchase receipts and warranty information.

Bill of Sale

A bill of sale is recommended for private sales to document the transaction and protect the seller if the firearm is later used in a crime or reported stolen.

Completing the Sale and Transferring Firearm Ownership:

Once you've found a legal buyer, complete the sale and transfer ownership of the firearm in a legal and compliant manner. Be sure to follow all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations, including background checks and any necessary permits or licenses.

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General Questions & Answers

Is it legal to sell guns in Rhode Island?

Yes, it is legal, but there are stipulations. A private seller can conduct business only with a buyer who has a valid purchase permit. Moreover, they must observe a seven-day waiting period between completing the financial transaction and delivering the firearm to the buyer.

Can you buy a gun in Rhode Island without a license?

No, you can’t. In order to purchase a handgun, a buyer must have a Rhode Island License to Carry Concealed Weapons (LCCW) or obtain a “blue card” from the RI Department of Environmental Management.

Can someone from out of state sell a gun in Rhode Island?

When a private individual, rather than a gun store, sells a firearm to someone residing in another state, the transfer must be facilitated by a federally licensed firearm dealer in the buyer's state of residence. The fees associated with this process can vary depending on the specific FFL (Federal Firearms License) involved.

Do you need a federally-issued ID to buy a gun in Rhode Island?

Yes, you need a valid government-issued photo ID to purchase a firearm in Rhode Island. This is generally necessary for the completion of the background check.

What do you need to sell firearms in Rhode Island?

In Rhode Island, private sales of firearms require the assistance of a federally licensed dealer (FFL). The seller and buyer meet at the FFL's premises, where the buyer completes a background check. If the check is successful, the dealer will facilitate the transaction and maintain records, as required by law. 

Does a gun bill of sale have to be notarized in Rhode Island?

Rhode Island did not require gun bills of sale to be notarized. 

What is the process to buy a gun in Rhode Island?

All prospective firearms purchasers in Rhode Island must complete and sign an application form which the seller must send to the state police or local chief of police for the background check. The police authority has seven days to verify that the applicant's background meets state requirements.

What documents I need to buy a gun in Rhode Island?

A blue card or hunter education card is needed to purchase both a handgun and any ammunition. Possession of a Pistol/Revolver Safety Certificate, also known as the "blue card," is a required document as part of the process to purchase a handgun and/or ammunition in Rhode Island.

What are the rules for gun ownership in Rhode Island?

In Rhode Island, individuals must obtain a license to carry a concealed handgun (CCW) in public. Background checks are required for all firearm sales, including private transactions. The minimum age to purchase and possess firearms is 18 for long guns and 21 for handguns. Certain individuals, such as convicted felons and those with domestic violence convictions, are prohibited from possessing firearms. Assault weapons and large-capacity magazines are banned, with exceptions for those who possessed them before the ban.

Are Rhode Island gun laws strict?

Rhode Island has strict gun laws.

Does Rhode Island have a gun registry?

Rhode Island prohibits any government authority from keeping a list or register of privately owned firearms or their owners unless the firearm has been used in committing a crime of violence, or an individual has been convicted of a crime of violence.

How much does it cost to transfer a gun in Rhode Island?

When a private individual, rather than a gun store, sells a firearm to someone residing in another state, the transfer must be facilitated by a federally licensed firearm dealer in the buyer's state of residence. The fees associated with this process can vary depending on the specific FFL (Federal Firearms License) involved.

Does Rhode Island allow private gun sales?

Yes, you can sell a gun privately in Rhode Island, but the sale must be conducted through a Federal Firearms License (FFL) holder. In Rhode Island, individuals who want to acquire firearms are generally required to complete a specific application form when purchasing or acquiring a firearm from any person, including non-licensed gun dealers.

Can you gift someone a gun in Rhode Island?

Rhode Island allowed individuals to gift firearms to others without going through a licensed firearms dealer. 

Who can't own a gun in Rhode Island?

In Rhode Island, it is illegal to own or possess if a person: Has been convicted of a crime of violence. Is a fugitive from justice. Has entered a plea of "no contest" to, or been convicted of, a felony domestic violence offense or specific misdemeanor domestic violence offense.



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Understanding and complying with firearm legislation is a crucial responsibility for both firearm sellers and owners in Rhode Island. These updated laws are designed to balance individuals' rights to bear arms with the broader community's right to safety. By ensuring compliance with both state and federal laws, sellers can contribute to a safer community for all Rhode Islanders.


The content presented on this website is intended for informational purposes only. has made significant efforts in compiling, formulating, and ensuring high-quality information and materials. Nevertheless, we do not affirm or guarantee the complete accuracy, exhaustiveness, appropriateness, or timeliness of the information displayed on or linked to this website. Any reliance upon the information found on this website or through the associated links is done solely at the user’s discretion and risk. The information provided here does not amount to legal advice.  We are not legal professionals specialized in firearm laws, and our content should not be taken as such. Users are fully responsible for adhering to the laws and regulations applicable to their local jurisdiction concerning the buying, selling, and possession of firearms.