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Rhode Island Ranked 10th Worst State For Gun Owners

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


A recent ranking from Gun & Ammo magazine named Rhode Island as the #42 best state for gun-owners. What do the gun owners think?

Rhode Island ranks among the worst states in the country for gun owners, named #42 out of 51 states in Guns & Ammo magazine's new ranking of the Best States for Gun Owners in 2013. According to Second Amendment advocates and gun advocacy groups in Rhode Island, dwelling at the bottom of the list is not something to be excited about.

"There is definitely something wrong with gun laws in this state. A lot of people get confused about the laws or have no clue about what is going on," said John Francis, owner of Competition Shooting Supplies in Pawtucket.

"It clearly states in the constitution that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed upon. Apparently, our legislators just aren't getting it."

Ocean State not friendly to gun owners

Guns & Ammo based its assessment on five criteria: concealed carry regulations; restrictions on so-called "modern sporting rifles" or MSRs, a class of semi-automatic rifles; restrictions on weapons classified under the National Firearms Act (NFA), such as machine guns, suppressors and short-barreled rifles; state Stand Your Ground laws or Castle Doctrines regarding the use of a firearm in self-defense both inside and outside of the home; and miscellaneous factors, such as the state's culture and its relation to firearms or additional restrictions on weapons ammunition or magazines. Each criteria was scored on a scale 1 to 10, for a maximum score of 50 points.

Rhode Island finished 42nd in 2013, with a total of 22 out of 50 points. Rhode Island received a 3 for its concealed carry regulations, with Guns & Ammo classifying it as a "May-Issue" state for licenses to carry where meeting the licensing requirements is not a guarantee of receiving a license. The Ocean State received a 6 for its Castle Doctrine, which allows for self-defense in the case of an unlawful intruder in one's home. Rhode Island received a 10 in MSRs, meaning as a state there are no restrictions on the kind, type, or number of modern sporting rifles that can be owned and purchased. Rhode Island earned a 0 in Class 3/NFA, a 3 for CCR/Open Carry and a 3 for Miscellaneous.

In New England, Massachusetts ranked 49th, Connecticut ranked 45th, Maine finished 29th, New Hampshire was 10th, and Vermont came in as the 2nd best state for gun owners in 2013, with a score of 49 points, missing a perfect 50 due to the lack of specific laws regarding the Castle Doctrine in the Green Mountain State.

Second Amendment Threatened

Rhode Island gun advocates, in considering this latest ranking, focused on a fundamental constitutional right being thwarted by what they see as excessive regulation in the Ocean State. "I feel that it is absurd to keep guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens, said Louis Federici, president of the Providence Revolver Club, an NRA-affiliated indoor handgun range located in Cranston.  "Laws that over-regulate do not save people. It is the people obeying laws that make our society safe." While Federici said that he understood the reason to have background checks when people purchase weapons, he questioned the system itself. "When the data behind those background checks is completely disorganized and disheveled, you may be putting guns in the hands of the wrong people," he said.

John Francis of Competition Shooting Supplies echoes Federici's concern with the legitimacy of data in background checks. "I don't understand why gun carriers who obey the law have to get a background check for each new gun they choose," he said. "Excessive regulation has never kept guns out of criminals' hands and never will. It keeps guns out of the hands of people who deserve them."

Safety v. Constitution?

While Rhode Island may rank far from being friendly to gun owners, it may become even more unfriendly if Rhode Island Representative Linda Finn has her way. The newly elected representative from Aquidneck Island has sponsored a bill that would require Rhode Islanders to register their firearms with local officials (the bill was met by protestors at the State House in early March). Finn said that her intent is not to deny law-abiding citizens the right to possess firearms. "The system of gun regulation is completely ineffective," she said. "I do not have a problem with people owning guns for sport. Yet, we need to have some regulation such as detailed records of who owns guns and other areas such as monitoring magazine size." In light of the tragedies resulting from gun violence, Finn said she believes that action must be taken to protect children and all citizens from gun violence. "Guns are weapons, there is no denying that," she said. "There should be no reason why there are police men patrolling elementary schools. Something has to be done."

Room for Improvement

No matter the fate of Finn's legislation, the issue remains full of emotion and passionate defense--on both sides. John Rudolph, the President of the Highland Rod and Gun Club in Foster, took Rhode Island's latest ranking in stride and said he believes that there is no need to panic about gun regulation in the Ocean State.  "I can see why these rankings say that Rhode Island is at the bottom of the list," Rudolph said, adding that he finds some of Rhode Island's forms of gun regulation "a bit excessive."

"For example, the 7-day-wait denies gun owners from collecting guns they purchase for a full week so that they can have a sufficient background check performed," he said. "Many states do not enforce this." Rudolph, who is one of the founders of the recently-formed Rhode Island Second Amendment Coalition, said while he doesn't think the state needs any more regulation, he does agree that there are necessary procedures to be followed to make sure guns are being distributed safely. "I definitely think that background checks are important, however I think seven days is too long to wait," he said.

"Guns need regulation, but at the same time they should not be kept out of the hands of citizens who obey the law."  


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This article seems like a bizarre perversion of GoLocalProv's preference for lists!
Is there another list, somewhere, on which RI ranks 10th for gun controls?
Wouldn't a balanced approach be more journalistic? Appropriate? Honest?

Comment #1 by Easton Robert on 2013 03 20

The lede's been buried here. There are 51 states in the union now?

Comment #2 by W. Walwyn on 2013 03 20

The waiting period is somewhat bizarre in itself.A person with a concealed carry permit issued by the Attorney General has a 7 day wait,but if the permit is issued by a city or town,the waiting period is waived and an instant check is performed.If someone already has a concealed carry permit from any authority why a waiting period at all?Makes no sense.Instant check should actually be used for all firearms sales.It accomplishes its purpose of determining documented criminal convictions or mental commitments-now RI SHOULD enter all mental health info available into the NICS system-that would make a lot more sense than trying to ban large capacity magazines.

Comment #3 by Joseph Bernstein on 2013 03 20

I thought this was a pretty good article. There were a few things left out of House Bill 5573, that Linda Finn (D-72) sponsors, like that fact that it’s going to cost gun owners $100 per firearm to register and failure to comply would result in a prison term up to 3 years and a fine up to $3,000. I would like someone to tell me the costs involved in creating and maintaining this state registry. Also, how will this affect the criminal gun violence in the state? I only see this bill penalizing already law abiding citizens that choose to own a gun. How about we focus our time on the unemployment in this state smile

Comment #4 by MIKE F on 2013 03 20

Ditto Mike F. They just don't get up there on Smith Hill and my fear
is that they never will. Three months into the year and not a single
piece of meaningful legislation. In this case, a rookie legislator
looking for publicity with another needless law.

Comment #5 by Joseph Reynolds on 2013 03 20

Mike F, Finn knows exactly what she is doing. It isn't about safety. If you read the bill you'll notice that there is no grace period. The bill is goes into effect upon passage. That means every gun owner in RI is committing a felony when the bill passes because they have not registered their gun. You can't register your gun because there will be no registery before it passes. If you own a gun you will be a criminal according to the law.

Perhaps we should start charging $100 dollars to vote too...?

Comment #6 by Ted Geisel on 2013 03 20

For those wishing to maintain a concealed carry permit the consequences are more dire than they appear at first. To get the permit you have to get both a sign off from an authorized fire arms instructor and a note from your local police chief. To get the first of these you8 must take your hand gun to get signed off for you marksmanship. When you present that at the local police station they can, if the Finn law is passed, easily cross reference to see if you have registered your weapons with them or not. So the conclusion is that you will have to register your weapon(s) before you can even apply for the carry permit or be turning youself in when you do apply.

Comment #7 by Everett Crisman on 2013 03 20

I feel a lot safer knowing I live in a state that is unfriendly to gun owners. At last RI is tops in something I approve of.

Comment #8 by Carol Surprenant on 2013 03 20


Try taking a gun course at a local shooting range. You might get over your irrational fear of guns once you handled a gun and got to know some of the people who own them.

Comment #9 by Art West on 2013 03 21

Carol-maybe you'd be more comfortable in NY or NJ-unlike Art I don't think your disdain for the rights of others needs to be catered to

Comment #10 by Joseph Bernstein on 2013 03 22

I don't think Carol's comment reflects an irrational fear of guns, just a healthy concern for the damage that people can do with guns. And before you tell me to go to a shooting range, I grew up target and rat shooting, carried a 45 and an M16 in Viet Nam, and have a very healthy respect for firepower.

If RI has made it inconvenient and expensive to purchase and carry a concealed weapon, I think they have the right idea. Our Constitution does not say that the right to bear arms comes without responsibilities.

Perhaps you gentlemen could look on the list and find a state that makes it easy to get guns. (BTW, that wouldn't be Colorado)

Comment #11 by Easton Robert on 2013 03 22

I actually think people uncomfortable with guns should probably not go to a shooting range or bother with guns at all-I don't bother with sushi because I think it's crazy to eat raw fish.However,I don't tell others not to eat it.I also was in Vietnam and variously had an M16 or S&W Model 15 revolver depending on the circumstances-I carried guns all my adult life in law enforcement and to me they are just tools.I do like shooting for recreation and don't hunt but don't object to others hunting.Point being that legal gun owners are NOT the problem.The same legislators who want to harass legal gun owners are frequently the same ones who like to make things easier for people convicted of violent crimes,often with firearms.David Cicilline made lost of his money defending such people and then wants to disarm honest citizens.He can go to hell as far as I'm concerned.

Comment #12 by Joseph Bernstein on 2013 03 22

Joseph Bernstein -

Agree. Completely. Thank you for speaking truth. It's downright disappointing after all these years that people still cling to their fears, superstitions, and fallacies about guns.

If they'd only read the article they'd see right away the correlation between states with the least gun control, such as Vermont, and states with the lowest crime rates, such as Vermont.

Every credible study corroborates what Lombroso and Becaria said centuries ago: if you want more crime, pass more anti-gun laws. If you want less crime, relax gun laws and let citizens enjoy the freedom to own firearms.

It's ironic that people 'feel safe' in a state with tough gun laws and a moderate crime rate, while those who reside in states with liberal gun laws enjoy very low crime rates.

Florida's rates of gun ownership and Concealed Carry Permit holders stand at all time highs, while crime here is reaching all time lows.

The correlation repeats itself everywhere, yet they still talk about 'feeling safe', when safety is not a feeling. I often wonder why they don't realize that they're safe until a predator spontaneously decides to perp against them. At that point, they're relative safety and ability to survive is largely up to them, as police cannot be everywhere.

The Left has done a great job of misleading and deceiving people.

Comment #13 by paul zecchino on 2013 03 23

These wingnuts can continue to push their stupid gun legislation in the knee-jerk reaction to every nut job in the country that kills someone. These people have to get their names in the spotlight.
The 2nd amendment is what it is - you don't infringe on my right to own a gun. You can protect your property and I pity the person that attempts to break into my home.

Comment #14 by Gov- stench on 2013 03 24

Wow, golocalprov reveals itself in deleting my comment!

Comment #15 by Easton Robert on 2013 03 24

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.