COVID-19 and Guns in Rhode Island

The original surge in NICS – National  Instant Criminal Background Check System –  for RI from February to March 2020 represented a 132% increase that topped all U.S. states. In the wake of the killing of George Floyd, summer NICS in RI skyrocketed again.

  • 42,401 NICS for RI have been reported by the FBI as of 10/31/2020
  • This is a 74.21% increase over the 2019 total of 24,338

NICS for Rhode Island, 2020 vs. 2019

August 2020

August 7, 2020

Gov. Raimondo extends “Uniform Statewide School Calendar” order.

Executive Order 20-63

Gov. Raimondo signs order for “School Bus Driver Recertification.”

Executive Order 20-62

August 6, 2020

Gov. Raimondo suspends “alcoholic beverage by a licensee for on-premises consumption after 11:00 p.m.”

Executive Order 20-61

July 2020

July 31, 2020

Gov. Raimondo extends order requiring face masks or cloth face coverings.

Exeucitive Order 20-60

July 24, 2020 “Illegal attempts to buy guns skyrocketed when the Coronavirus Pandemic Began.”

July 20, 2020

Gov. Raimondo extends “Uniform Statewide School Calendar” and various other COVID executive orders.

Executive Order 20-53

July 17, 2020

Gov. Raimondo extends Summer Camp restrictions.

July 16, 2020 “Sales of Guns to First Time Owners Rise Amid COVID-19 Pandemic.”

Executive Order 20.54

July 15, 2020

Washington Post: “Spike in violent crime follows rise in gun-buying amid social uphealval.”

July 13, 2020 “Three million more guns: The Spring 2020 spike in firearm sales.”

July 3, 2020

Gov. Raimondo extends Ex. Ord. 20-07 – “Extension of Time for Weapon and Firearm Background Checks,” along with several other COVID executive orders.

Executive Order 20-52

July 2, 2020 “Amid Protests and Virus Fears, Firearm Background Checks Hit All-Time High.”

June 2020

June 29, 2020

Gov. Raimondo signs “Phase III Re-Opening,” which eases restrictions on gathering size slightly.

Executive Order 20-50

June 22, 2020

Gov. Raimondo signs “Rise Together – First Steps to a More Equitable and Resilient Rhode Island,” which focuses on the removal of the word “Plantations” from the state name.

Executive Order 20-48

June 19, 2020

Gov. Raimondo extends summer camp restrictions from last month.

Executive Order 20-47

June 4, 2020

Gov. Raimondo extends indoor and outdoor mask/cloth face covering order.

Executive Order 20-41

Gov. Raimondo extends Executive Order 20-07, “Extension of Time for Weapon and Firearm Background Checks,” among several others.

Executive Order 20-42

Gov. Raimondo issues an order to suspend the school district requirement to establish a calendar for the school year and “shall issue a uniform, statewide school calender … and thereafter [RIDE] shall amend the calendar as it deems necessary…”

Executive Order 20-44

May 2020

May 21, 2020

Gov. Raimondo limits summer camp size and imposes specific health and safety requirements. 

Executive Order 20-35

May 8, 2020

Gov. Raimondo lifts stay at home order, leaving certain restrictions in place, with limited re-openings with stringent health regulations.

Executive Order 20-32

May 6, 2020

Gov. Raimondo extends her original Extension of Time for Weapon and Firearm Background Checks, due to the surge in NICS requests from RI Police Chiefs Association.

Executive Order 20-31


May 5, 2020

Gov. Raimondo requires masks or face coverings in public places, retail establishments.

Executive Order 20-30

April 2020

April 2, 2020

ABC affiliate in N.C. reports FBI background checks in RI up 132%, highest in the U.S.


April 17, 2020

Gov. Raimondo extends executive order for NICS background checks

Executive Order 20-28

March 2020

March 9, 2020

Gov. Raimondo declares disaster emergency

Executive Order 20-02


March 16, 2020

Boston Globe reporting runs on ammo and big surge in gun sales in West Warwick and Coventry

Gov. Raimondo limits groups to 25 or less

Executive Order 20-04


March 17, 2020

WJAR reports huge spike in gun sales in Exeter and Warwick


March 20, 2020

RI Police Chief’s Assoc. asks Gov. to extend background checks due to surge in gun sales

RIPAC letter to Gov. Raimondo

Gov. Raimondo extends timeframe for NICS background checks from 7 to 30 days.

Executive Order 20-07


March 21, 2020

Newport Daily News reports big spike in sales at Aquidneck Island gun shops.

March 22, 2020

Gov. Raimondo limits groups to 10

Executive Order 20-09


March 24, 2020

WPRI reports big uptick in gun sales in Tiverton, Warwick, Richmond


March 28, 2020

Providence Journal reports first coronavirus death

Gov. Raimondo limits groups to less 5 or less, designates liquor and firearms stores as essential services

Executive Order 20-13

February 2020

February 29, 2020

First COVID case reported

RI Department of Health