Rhode Island Firearm Owners' League

One of the main issues RIFOL have been working on over the last few years is to help people obtain a permit to carry a concealable firearm issued by a licensing authority under RIGL 11-47-11. This law states that if an applicant meets the statutory requirement the licensing authority SHALL issue a permit. Although this law has been in effect since 1927, it has been ignored by many licensing authorities for many years. It wasn't until 2002 when Archer sued the town of Smithfield for not accepting applications that the licensing authorities in cities and towns slowly started realizing that they better follow the law. Since then there have been many important lawsuits that have all resulted in "victory" for gun owners. More about these cases here. In 2010 less than half of the cities and towns were acepting application, but today every municipality have a pistol permit application! The map below was originally marked red in towns/cities that were not accepting applications, but today it is all GREEN. The map is more or less meaningless now, but will be kept here anyway to show the progress that has been made.

Most of the progress can be attributed to those who didn't take No for an answer when they were told to apply through the Attorney General's office. Most followed a few simple steps and with a lot of persistence and patience they were able to obtain a permit. There have been a few lawsuits over the years as well, but far more people were able to get their permit due to their own hard work than by hiring an attorney.

The relevant statute with respect to issuing permits by the local municipalities is 11-47-11.
§ 11-47-11  License or permit to carry concealed pistol or revolver. –  (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,  or of any person twenty-one (21) years of age or over having a bona fide 
residence within the United States and a license or permit to carry a pistol or revolver concealed upon his or her 
person issued by the authorities of any other state or subdivision of the United States,  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. The license or permit shall be in triplicate in form to be prescribed by the attorney general and shall 
bear the fingerprint, photograph, name, address, description, and signature of the licensee and the reason given for desiring 
a license or permit and in no case shall it contain the serial number of any firearm. The original shall be delivered to the licensee. 
Any member of the licensing authority, its agents, servants, and employees shall be immune from suit in any action, civil or criminal, 
based upon any official act or decision, performed or made in good faith in issuing a license or permit under this chapter. 

(b) Notwithstanding any other chapter or section of the general laws of the state of Rhode Island, the licensing authority of 
any city or town shall not provide or release to any individual, firm, association or corporation the name, address, 
or date of birth of any person who has held or currently holds a license or permit to carry a concealed pistol or revolver. 
This section shall not be construed to prohibit the release of any statistical data of a general nature relative to age, gender 
and racial or ethnic background nor shall it be construed to prevent the release of information to parties involved in any 
prosecution of § 11-47-8 or in response to a lawful subpoena in any criminal or civil action which the person is a party to that action.


If this is broken down, these are the requirements:
  • Must be 21 years old
  • Be a resident (or have a business) in the town or be 21 years old and live in the US and have a permit from another State
  • Have a "proper reason" to carry a firearm
  • Be a suitable person
  • Pass the proficiency shooting test

    The first two requirements are pretty obvious and don't need further explanation. The third requirement is the requirements that many licensing authorities have mis-understood for years. Many licensing authorities have replaced this with the requirement in 11-47-18 and make the applicant "demonstrate a need". In the Gadomski decision (2015) the Rhode Island Supreme Court quashed that interpretation.
    There are no codified definition to what is a "proper reason", but the Rhode Island Supreme Court stated in the Mosby decision that being a "gun collector" is a proper reason.

    The next requirement is that the applicant must be a suitable person. This has also been a bit "abused" by the licensing authorities. Although there is a definition of unsuitable many licensing authorities have taken this to the extreme by requesting that the applicant submit to a psychological evaluation at the University of Rhode Island. This is mostly done to deter applicants from applying since the test does not even exist according to the URI...

    The last requirement is also pretty self explanatory and most people do not have any problems with this.

    If someone feels they meet the requirements in 11-47-11, but are not sure how to proceed since they have "heard the Chief does not issue permits" they can follow the following steps:
  • Request an application from the licensing authorities. In most cases this will be the Chief of Police. Do not let them send you to the AG since they are required by law to accept your application and this have been confirmed by the Rhode Island courts in the Archer decision. If they still refuse to give you an application, fill out an APRA request to get the application. Since this is a public document and every town have developed an application, they have to provide the application.
  • Fill out the application the best you can. If there are requirements that cannot be met, such as taking a psych test that URI says doesn't exists, simply state the the test is not available according the URI. In lieu of a psych test some licensing authorities have started requesting medical waivers so they can check your medical history. The applicant is NOT required by law to provide this, and the licensing authorities will most likely NOT have a process in place to safe guard your medical records so the applicant will have to make a decision whether to sign the release form.
  • Make sure you answer every question honestly and don't "forget" about about for example any arrests that happened years ago. The police will most likely have access to this and could be used against you if you don't mention it in the application even though the violation may not disqualify you to obtain a CCW. If you are not sure if an "incident" qualifies as an arrest; contact the police to help clarify the incident.
  • When the application is submitted, request a receipt that the application was received. An option is to mail the application certified with a return receipt.
  • Many applications require reference letters, and these can sometimes take a while to obtain and many do not know how to write these. Reference letters are not required by law and most applications do not state what the reference letters are supposed to say either, so there is not reason to put too much effort into this. The reference letter can simply just state that "to the best of my knowledge XXXX is a law abiding citizen and meets all the statutory requirements to obtain a pistol permit.
  • Wait... There is no statutory timeframe to process the application, but the Supreme Court stated in the Gadomski decision that 90 days should be sufficient time to process the application. This is also the timeframe most licensing authorities have given themselves in the application. Unfortunately, many licensing authorities allow themselves a much long processing time and in some cases applicants have waited over a year to get a decision.. If you have not heard back within the timeframe in the application (or 90 days if no timeframe is given), you can contact the Chief and request that the application is processed and refer to the Gadomski decision where the court gave the Chief 90 days to process the application.
  • If you still don't hear back from the licensing authority, it is time to contact the city officials. Let them know when you applied and that you have not received a decision yet (refer to Gadomski). Contact the Mayor, city/town council, and the city/town manager to let them know the lack of due process of your case.
  • Make sure every communication with the licensing authority and city/town officials is done in writing or at least documented. Try to avoid calling, but if a phone call is made, write down the date, time, length of phone call. You can also email the person you talked to with the content of the discussion and ask if they agree with what you wrote. This will serve as proof that the conversation took place and what was said.
  • Repeat the last few steps if necessary.
  • If you are denied and you feel you were wrongfully denied; request all information used by the licensing authority to come to this conclusion. You are entitled to this information according to the Rhode Island Supreme Court in the Mosby decision. Although there is no statutory appeals process, you can request an appeal. Depending on the reason for denial, bring whatever evidence you can to prove the denial should be reversed. Record or document this appeal.
  • If the appeal doesn't go your way, contact the city/town officials again and let them know you are not getting "due process".
  • If everything else fails, you might have to hire an attorney..


  • For more information about YOUR town, please visit our forum since there is a thread for every town where people have shared their experiences with their process for getting a permit. Please note that you need to be a registered forum member to see this section of the forum.



    PS! Some towns that are listed as green may not actually have issued permits since they may just have started accepting applications. RIFOL does not have the resources to stay in contact with every Police Departments in Rhode Island regarding how many permits have been issued. However, if a town is marked green, the town has applications and accepts applications and people are encouraged to apply. If any of the information on this link appears to be wrong, or if a Chief of Police does not accept and process applications per 11-47-11, feel free to post on the forum. A request was sent out to all the Police Departments in Rhode Island to identify what their policy was regarding accepting, processing, and issueing Pistol Permits according to Rhode Island General Law 11-47-11. Below is the request that was sent out and the responses from the various Police Departments. The original study was done in 2010, but we try to keep the website updated and in some instances we will note the date there was an update.

    Rhode Island Conceal Carry application study

    This document is the result of a study to determine how the various police departments in Rhode Island process applications for Pistol Permits to carry a concealable weapon. The following questions were sent out to all the police departments in the state and requested the answers as part of the Access to Public Records Act (Rhode Island General Law, Title 38):
    1. Do you consider yourself the Licensing Authority in your town/city according to Rhode Island statute 11-47-2 section 5? If the answer is No, please confirm who is the licensing authority in your town/city. 11-47-2 section 5: "Licensing authorities" means the board of police commissioners of a city or town where the board has been instituted, the chief of police or superintendent of police of other cities and towns having a regular organized police force, and, in towns where there is no chief of police or superintendent of police, it means the town clerk who may issue licenses upon the recommendation of the town sergeant, and it also means any other person or body duly authorized by the city or town charter or by state law.
    2. How many applications were received and processed according to Rhode Island statute 11-47-11 in 2009?
    3. How many new permits were issued in 2009?
    4. How many permits were denied in 2009?
    5. How many permits are currently active?
    6. Please send a copy of the application used by your town/city Police Department.

    Barrington

    1. Yes.
    Comments: The Chief says the “The RI Department of Attorney General has asked each municipality to send pistol permits to their agency to comply with uniform standards of approval.” February 28th, 2015, update: Barrington now issues permits.

    Bristol

    1. Yes
    Comments: All applications are forwarded to the Attorney General February 28th, 2015, update: Bristol now issues permits.

    Burrillville

    1. Yes
    2. 9
    3. 8
    4. 1
    5. 26
    6. The application can be found online

    Central Falls

    The chief considers himself the licensing authority of Central Falls, but only signs applications to prove residency in the town. Applications are processed by the Attorney General. The answer to this question is therefore NO. February 28th, 2015, update: Central Falls now have applications.

    Charlestown

    1. No, the Charlestown Police Department does not consider themselves the licensing authority to issue pistol permits according to RIGL 11-47-11.
    Comments: All applications are referred to the Attorney General or Rhode Island. February 28th, 2015, update: Charlestown now issues permits.

    Coventry

    The Coventry Police Department responded, but they responded with a confidential email so the answers will not be posted. To get the answers, feel free to contact: Beverly Gammell Executive Secretary to the Chief of Police Coventry Police Department 1075 Main Street Coventry, RI 02816 401-826-1100 www.coventrypd.com Notes: The Coventry Police Department requires a Psychological evaluation administered by the University of Rhode Island Psychological Testing Service and the expense for said testing shall be borne by the applicant. In certain cases the Town of Coventry may issue a pistol permit with restrictions in lieu of a denial. February 28th, 2015, update: Coventry now issues permits and the psych test has been dropped.

    Cranston

    1. Yes
    2. 12 application were received, but 3 were rescinded.
    3. 0 were approved in 2009, 1 was approved in 2010.
    4. ?
    5. ?
    6. An application was enclosed
    As of 2012 the Coventry Police Department does NOT require a psych test. February 28th, 2015, update: Cranston now issues permits.

    Cumberland

    1. The Chief writes that the Cumberland Police Department is NOT the licensing authority (the Town Council is the licensing authority), but the application says the Cumberland Police Department IS the licensing authority. For the purpose of this report, the Cumberland Police Department will be considered the licensing authority.
    2. 0
    3. 0
    4. 0
    5. 0
    6. Application was submitted.
    Notes: The Cumberland Police Department requires a Psychological evaluation administered by the University of Rhode Island Psychological Testing Service and the expense for said testing shall be borne by the applicant. 11-20-2015: Cumberland has now issued a permit and the psych test is not required.

    East Greenwich

    1. East Greenwich has applications.
    Notes: An application was enclosed. There is a $210.00 non-refundable background fee for the purpose of verifying all information and a $40.00 fee for the actual permit. February 28th, 2015, update: East Greenwich now issues permits.

    East Providence

    The East Providence Police Department did not have a process in place for the year 2009, but as of November 2010 they have applications available. February 28th, 2015, update: East Providence now issues permits.

    Foster

    1. Yes
    2. 4
    3. 4
    4. 0
    5. 11
    6. A copy of the application was submitted.

    Glocester

    1. Yes
    2. 0
    3. 0
    4. 0
    5. 2
    6. An application was enclosed.
    Notes: The Glocester Police Department requires a Psychological evaluation administered by the University of Rhode Island Psychological Testing Service and the expense for said testing shall be borne by the applicant. The town of Glocester may issue a permit with restrictions in lieu of a denial.

    Hopkinton

    1. Yes
    2. 6
    3. 6
    4. 0
    5. 11
    6. Same as the Attorney General's application.

    Jamestown

    1. No, applicants are referred to the Attorney General of RI.
    February 28th, 2015, update: Jamestown has applications and have issued permits.

    Johnston

    1. Yes
    2. 0
    3. 0
    4. 0
    5. 0
    6. An application was enclosed.
    Comments: There are two types of permits given: Full, and Work. The Work permit is only valid during work hours according to the application. The Johnston Police Department requires a Psychological evaluation administered by the University of Rhode Island Psychological Testing Service and the expense for said testing shall be borne by the applicant. 11-20-2015: Johnston has issued permits and does NOT require a psych test.

    Lincoln

    1. Yes, Lincoln Police Department is the licensing authority according to 11-47-11.
    2. 0
    3. 0
    4. 0
    5. 0
    6. Application was enclosed.
    Notes: Lincoln Police department requires a psychological evaluation administered by a psychologist employed by the University of Rhode Island Psychological Testing Service, and the expense of the test shall be borne by the applicant. In addition, an authorization to release of personal information must be signed. The disclosure of records include educational institutions, financial and credit institutions, including records of deposits, withdrawals and balances of checking and savings accounts, and loans, and also the records of commercial and retail credit agencies (including credit reports, and/or ratings), medical and psychiatric treatment and/or consultation, including hospitals, clinics, private practitioners, and the US Veteran's Administration, public utility companies, employment and pre-employment records, including background reports, efficiency ratings, complaints or grievances filed by or against me, and salary records whenever filed etc... January 31st, 2016: Lincoln no longer require a psych test and they have now issued a permit.

    Little Compton

    1. Yes
    2. 0
    3. 0
    4. 0
    5. 0
    6. An application was enclosed, and it is very similar to the application provided by the Attorney General of RI.

    Middletown

    1. Yes
    2. 0
    3. 0
    4. 0
    5. 0
    6. Application was enclosed.

    Narragansett

    1. Yes, the Narragansett Police Department does consider themselves the licensing authority to issue pistol permits according to RIGL 11-47-11.
    2. 0
    3. 0
    4. 0
    5. 0
    6. Application submitted.
    Notes: The policy of issuing pistol permits had recently been established and no applications were processed in 2009. Previously all applicants were referred to the Attorney General of RI.

    New Shoreham

    1. No
    February 28th, 2015, update: The Chief has stated that if someone wish to apply, he will develop an application.

    Newport

    1. No
    Update. As of October 12th, 2012, Newport have applications available to apply for a pistol permit under 11-47-11. February 28th, 2015, update: Newport now issues permits.

    North Kingstown

    1. Yes
    2. 2
    3. 0
    4. 0
    5. 3
    6. Same as the Attorney General's Application.
    February 28th, 2015, update: North Kingstown now issues permits.

    North Providence

    1. No. This is the response provided by the North Providence Police Department: Currently the North Providence Police Department does not issue town permits. By Town Ordinance a psychological examination must be performed and currently that service is not available through psychological testing services. At this time, we are referring applicants to the Attorney General’s Office.
    2. 0
    3. 0
    4. 0
    5. 0
    6. N/A
    February 28th, 2015, update: North Providence has an application.

    North Smithfield

    1. Yes
    2. 12 applications were requested, but only 10 were returned.
    3. 10
    4. 0
    5. 11
    6. Application was enclosed and is very similar to the one used by the Attorney General of RI.

    Pawtucket

    1. The Mayor of Pawtucket responded saying he considers himself the licensing authority in Pawtucket.
    2. 0
    3. 0
    4. 0
    5. Denied. The city claims they do not maintain these records.
    6. An application was enclosed.
    Notes: After the application has been reviewed by the City of Pawtucket, the applicant is required to submit to personal interview with members of a 3 member panel chosen by the Chief of Police. Based on this interview, additional testing may be required. The ordinances of the City of Pawtucket also requires a psychological evaluation prior to the issuance of a license to carry a concealed pistol or revolver in accordance with RI General Law 11-47-6. The city of also retain the right to accept or reject any applications for a pistol permit upon its sole determination of “a proper showing of need”.

    Portsmouth

    1. Yes
    2. 9
    3. 9
    4. 0
    5. 25
    6. The Attorney General's application is used.

    Providence

    1. Yes
    2. The Providence PD did not say how many applications were received in 2009, but they said one has been done in 2010.
    3. 0
    4. 0
    5. 1
    6. An application was enclosed.
    Comments: The Providence PD recently created their own application after a RI Superior Court ordered the chief to accept and process an application from a gentleman in Providence. The transcript can be read here http://www.rifol.com/FORUM/download/file.php?id=18 The permit fee is $250

    Richmond

    1. Yes
    2. 0
    3. 0
    4. 0
    5. 0
    6. The Chief responded this was not applicable, but does not provide information with what application is used.
    February 28th, 2015, update: Richmond has an application.

    Scituate

    1. Yes
    2. No documents exists
    3. 9
    4. No documents exists
    5. From the list of outstanding permits (names were not enclosed), it appears there are 2 outstanding permits.
    6. A copy of the application was enclosed.

    Smithfield

    1. Yes
    2. 4
    3. 4
    4. 0
    5. 7
    6. A copy of the application was enclosed.

    South Kingstown

    1. Yes
    2. 4
    3. 4
    4. 0
    5. 7
    6. A copy of the application was enclosed.
    Notes: The application is short and straight forward, but The South Kingstown Police Department requires a $36.00 processing fee to send fingerprints electronically to the FBI.

    Tiverton

    1. Yes
    2. 16
    3. 15
    4. 1
    5. 38
    6. A copy of the application was submitted.

    Warren

    1. No. The Police Department of Warren actually answered Yes to the question and do consider themselves the licensing authority of pistol permits, but they refer applicants to the Attorney General's office.
    2. 0
    3. 0
    4. 0
    5. 0
    6. N/A

    Warwick

    1. Yes (actually the Board of Public Safety is the licensing authority).
    2. 19
    3. 15
    4. 4
    5. 33
    6. An application was enclosed. There is also a $160.00 non-refundable processing fee in addition to the $40.00 fee if a permit is approved.
    As of 2015 there is no longer an application fee in Warwick.

    Westerly

    1. Yes
    2. Does not specify how many applications were processed.
    3. 9
    4. 0
    5. 20
    6. Application was enclosed.
    Notes: The application is similar to the one used by the Attorney General.

    West Greenwich

    1. Yes
    2. 5
    3. 5
    4. 0
    5. 8
    6. Application is the same as the Attorney General's application.

    West Warwick

    1. No
    February 28th, 2015, update: West Warwick now issues permits.

    Woonsocket

    1. Yes
    2. 1 new and 25 renewals were processed.
    3. 1 new permit was issues
    4. 0
    5. 49
    6. An application was enclosed.
    Notes: The Woonsocket Police Department requires an annual weapons qualification.