In the state of Rhode Island, if an individual wishes to buy a handgun, they must present an application and a blue card to the gun dealer. No, this is not a special type of credit card. It is a Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) Pistol Revolver Safety Certificate. Understandably, it was given a shorter name, often referred to simply as the "blue card."
Anyone wishing to purchase a gun in Rhode Island will want to know more about the gun laws in the state. These include the blue card and how to get one.
Guns in Rhode Island
Some states have the reputation for being pro-guns, with so-called constitutional carry laws, "shall-issue" concealed carry license laws, no background checks for gun purchases, and Castle Doctrine laws in place stating that residents have no duty to retreat in their own homes and may use any reasonable method of self-defense including shooting an intruder.
Other states are considered less gun-friendly. These states have higher minimum ages for gun purchases, background checks, higher standards for concealed carry, and bans on magazines holding more than 10 rounds.
Rhode Island is somewhere in between. It's gun laws are considered too strict by the NRA, but they could be much stricter than they are. What are the core gun laws in the state?
Buying a Gun in Rhode Island
In Rhode Island, anyone who is 21 years of age or older can apply to purchase a pistol or a revolver. Along with the application, the individual must also present a Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) Pistol Revolver Safety Certificate, more commonly called a "blue card."
What exactly is a blue card?
It is a document certifying that the applicant sat for and passed the state-mandated handgun safety course. To get a blue card in Rhode Island, an individual must take a 50-question safety exam. The completed test is forwarded to the RIDEM Division of Fish and Wildlife for grading.
Passing the exam by answering 40 of the 50 questions correctly leads to the issuance of a blue card. However, if the test-taker creates more than two cross-outs or self-corrections on the multiple choice, true/false test, they will not get a blue card.
What is on the Blue Card Exam?
An individual wanting to become a gun owner should study the study guide for the exam published by the RIDEM Division of Fish and Wildlife called "Set Your Sights on Handgun Basics."
The RI blue card test covers topics like:
- Types of handguns, ammunition and handgun parts.
- Loading procedures.
- Proper handgun grip.
- Safe body positioning.
- Sighting and aiming.
- Handgun hunting.
- Recreational shooting.
- Cleaning and storage.
- Home safety.
- Transporting handguns.
- Rhode Island firearms laws.
Taking the Rhode Island Gun Ownership Exam
The official place to sit for the exam is the RIDEM Headquarters Permit Application center in Providence. It offers exams every Monday, Wednesday and Friday between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. But the tests are also available at any RIDEM-approved firearms dealer or sporting club in the state. There is no fee to take the exam for the blue card.
Those taking and passing the test will get their blue card by mail in 11 to 15 days; those failing it will receive a notice of failure and will need to retake the exam.
Exemption From Testing
Rhode Island law exempts some individuals from having to sit for the test. These include active military personnel, who need only present their active military ID at one of these locations:
- Division of Fish and Wildlife Great Swamp Field Headquarters, 277 Great Neck Rd., West Kingston, RI 02892.
- RIDEM Headquarters, 235 Promenade St., Providence, RI 02808.
Second, those Rhode Island law enforcement officers who are authorized to carry concealed firearms don't need to take the exam. They are simply issued a blue card.
Finally, anyone completing the Rhode Island Hunter Education Program will be in possession of an orange card, otherwise known as a Rhode Island Hunter Education Course Card. This orange card can be used in place of the blue card when buying a hand gun.
Concealed Carry Permits in Rhode island
Obtaining a Rhode Island blue card is a necessary step for most Rhode Island residents who wish to buy a handgun. But that is just one of a variety of gun laws in the state.
Other important gun laws in Rhode Island include:
- Age. Minimum age of 21 to purchase a handgun.
- Waiting Period. Seven-day waiting period to purchase a handgun.
- License. License to carry a concealed handgun (Rhode Island License to Carry Concealed Weapons) is required if the owner intends to carry the gun anywhere other than their own property or from that property to a gun range. To transport the handgun anywhere else whether concealed or open carry, the owner must apply to the State Attorney General or local law enforcement for a conceal carry permit. The applicant is required to explain why they need a firearm and how it will remedy their problem and must provide three notarized references. A firearms training course that includes a live-firing test is required.
- Shall Issue. Rhode Island is a shall-issue state. That means that the attorney general "shall issue" the permit to an eligible individual who presents a reasonable justification for needing to carry a gun.
- Attorney General. Open carry is only legal in Rhode Island if the individual has a Rhode Island License to Carry Concealed Weapons that was issued by the attorney general. Concealed weapons licenses issued by local authorities are valid for concealed carry only. And regardless of what permit an individual possesses, they cannot carry into a state park or a federal building.
- Out-of-State. Rhode Island does not honor concealed carry licenses from any other state.
- Castle Doctrine. Rhode Island has adopted the Castle Doctrine, which provides that the owner or tenant of a home has no duty to retreat from any person breaking or entering into the residence and can engage a threat with reasonable means of self-defense.
- Bills. As of June, 2022, Rhode Island's governor signed three firearms bills into law that included a ban on magazines holding more than 10 rounds.
Rhode Island state gun laws are found under Rhode Island General Laws (RIGL) TITLE 11, Chapter 11-47.
- Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management: RIDEM Pistol/Revolver Certification ("Blue Card")
- Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management: Online Hunter Education Courses & In-Person Testing
- Rhode Island Legislature: Chapter 11-47
- Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management: Rhode Island Firearms Law
- U.S. Concealed Carry: Rhode island Concealed Carry Reciprocity Map & Gun Laws
- WBur: Rhode Island Governor Signs 3 Gun Control Bills into Law
- You may be exempt from taking the course or test in some cases. These include active-duty and reserve military members, and under certain circumstances, you can substitute a hunter safety course for the blue card.
- If you feel you should not be required to take the course, you must apply in writing to DEM to take a special test.
Teo Spengler earned a JD from U.C. Berkeley Law School. As an Assistant Attorney General in Juneau, she practiced before the Alaska Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court before opening a plaintiff's personal injury practice in San Francisco. She holds both an MA and an MFA in English/writing and enjoys writing legal blogs and articles. Her work has appeared in numerous online publications including USA Today, Legal Zoom, eHow Business, Livestrong, SF Gate, Go Banking Rates, Arizona Central, Houston Chronicle, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pearson, Quicken.com, TurboTax.com, and numerous attorney websites. Spengler splits her time between the French Basque Country and Northern California.