Citation(s) from the GunPolicy.org literature library
Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. 2021 ‘Background Check Procedures in Rhode Island.’ Background Checks. San Francisco, CA: Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. 25 February
Background Checks in Rhode Island
Federal law requires federally licensed firearms dealers (but not private sellers) to initiate a background check on the purchaser prior to sale of a firearm. Federal law provides states with the option of serving as a state "point of contact" and conducting their own background checks using state, as well as federal, records and databases, or having the checks performed by the FBI using only the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System ("NICS") database. (Note that state files are not always included in the federal database.)
Rhode Island is not a point-of-contact state for NICS. In Rhode Island, licensed dealers are required to contact the FBI for the federally required background check. However, Rhode Island also requires both licensed dealers and unlicensed sellers to conduct background checks through the state police or local chief of police. 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 the applicant's background meets state requirements.
Note that concealed handgun license holders in Rhode Island are exempt from the Rhode Island background check requirement, but not the federal background check requirement (which applies only when the seller is a licensed dealer)…
[Editor's note: The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence regularly updates its webpages with new data as US gun regulation evolves state by state. For the most up-to-date information on US gun laws, please refer to the Giffords URL below]