The right to have a firearm is found in the United Stated Constitution within the Second Amendment. However, it is not an absolute right, and there are restrictions to owning and possessing a firearm. If you do not follow the law and regulations, you can find yourself charged with a firearm offense in the State of Rhode Island.
These laws may seem straight forward but they can get complicated. This is why it is important to hire an experienced Rhode Island criminal defense attorney, if you find yourself charged with a firearm offense. Attorney David Ellison has represented many people on firearm charges throughout his career.
The laws pertaining to firearms come from Rhode Island General Laws § 11-47, which is known as the "Firearms Act."
What are Some Laws Related to Firearms in Rhode Island?
Rhode Island General Laws § 11-47-8 "License or permit required for carrying pistol – Possession of machine gun" states the following:
(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. The provisions of these sections shall not apply to any person who is the holder of a valid license or permit issued by the licensing authority of another state, or territory of the United States, or political subdivision of the state or territory, allowing him or her to carry a pistol or revolver in any vehicle or conveyance or on or about his or her person whether visible or concealed, provided the person is merely transporting the firearm through the state in a vehicle or other conveyance without any intent on the part of the person to detain him or herself or remain within the state of Rhode Island. No person shall manufacture, sell, purchase, or possess a machine gun except as otherwise provided in this chapter. Every person violating the provision of this section shall, upon conviction, be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than ten (10) years, or by a fine up to ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or both, and except for a first conviction under this section, shall not be afforded the provisions of suspension or deferment of sentence, nor a probation.
(b) No person shall have in his or her possession or under his or her control any sawed-off shotgun or sawed-off rifle as defined in § 11-47-2. Any person convicted of violating this subsection shall be punished by imprisonment for up to ten (10) years, or by a fine of up to five thousand dollars ($5,000), or both.
(c) No person shall have in his or her possession or under his or her control any firearm while the person delivers, possesses with intent to deliver, or manufactures a controlled substance. Any person convicted of violating this subsection shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than two (2) years nor more than twenty (20) years, and the sentence shall be consecutive to any sentence the person may receive for the delivery, possession with intent to deliver, or the manufacture of the controlled substance. It shall not be a defense to a violation of this subsection that a person has a license or permit to carry or possess a firearm.
(d) It shall be unlawful for any person to possess a bump-fire device, binary trigger, trigger crank, or any other device that when attached to a semi-automatic weapon allows full-automatic fire. Individuals who possess these items shall have ninety (90) days from the enactment of this section to either sell, destroy, or otherwise remove these items from the state of Rhode Island. Every person violating the provisions of this section shall, upon conviction, be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than ten (10) years, or by a fine up to ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or both, and, except for a first conviction under this section, shall not be afforded the provisions of suspension or deferment of sentence, nor a probation.
What is the Definition of a "Firearm" Under the Law?
The different definitions of various firearms comes from Rhode Island General Laws § 11-47-2.
The definition of "firearm" includes any machine gun, pistol, rifle, air rifle, air pistol, "blank gun", "BB gun", or other instrument from which steel or metal projectiles are propelled, or that may readily be converted to expel a projectile, except crossbows, recurve, compound, or longbows, and except instruments propelling projectiles that are designed or normally used for a primary purpose other than as a weapon. The frame or receiver of the weapon shall be construed as a firearm under the provisions of this section."
The definition of "Machine gun" means any weapon that shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger. The term also includes the frame or receiver of the weapon, any combination of parts designed and intended for use in converting a weapon into a machine gun, and any combination of parts from which a machine gun can be assembled if the parts are in the possession or under the control of a person.
The definition of "pistol" includes any pistol or revolver, and any shotgun, rifle, or similar weapon with overall length less than twenty-six inches (26"), but does not include any pistol or revolver designed for the use of blank cartridges only.
The definition of "Sawed-off rifle" means any rifle with overall length of less than twenty-six inches (26") or barrel length of less than sixteen inches (16").
The definition of "Sawed-off shotgun" means any shotgun with overall length of less than twenty-six inches (26") or barrel length of less than eighteen inches (18").
If you or a loved one is charged with a firearm crime in the State of Rhode Island, do not hesitate to contact Rhode Island firearms lawyer Attorney David Ellison today at 401-230-5520.