New York Gun Laws

Gun Laws in New York

New York is often named as the most difficult state for acquiring firearm permits of all the United States, though Maryland and New Jersey are close behind. The methods for acquiring a license for carrying a handgun are extensive and come with many different levels to get through. Even after a license has been obtained, certain restrictions apply for how and when the firearm can be used.

All New York firearm restrictions are set by the proper jurisdictions that can vary depending on the county. Only those who have valid and current handgun licenses are allowed to purchase, carry, or possess handguns inside the state boundaries of New York. The state of New York has made this law on purpose to insure the safety of its residents.

New York is bordered by Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont to the east, New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and Canada to the north and west, and has a maritime border with Rhode Island. New York City is the most populous city in all of the United States and has recently experienced many changes in their gun law. If You have further questions, reference the Governor’s website.

New York Firearm Licensing

New York does not allow part-time residents or residents of other states to register for firearms licenses. Only those on active military duty are allowed to have handguns if they are not full residents of the state. Those who travel through New York without a valid New York license can find problems, even if the firearms are kept in a safe, lockbox, or a trunk.

Each individual wanting to register for a handgun license will have to contact his or her county police department. This can also be the city police department or the sheriff’s department depending on the place of residency. The county must approve that a license is possible and then pass the application to the state police for more approval. Personal references will then need to be provided to account for the individual’s character. These associates and friends will be asked to file information of differing lengths depending on which county the application is filed.

The pistol licensing application will be processed within six months of the submission, but each county determines whether the wait will be as little as four months or more than six months. Unlike other states, New York does not have a “shall issue” provision for handgun licensing.

There are two kinds of licenses: a carrying license and a premises-only license. Certain restrictions may apply for both, such as allowance only for field hunting or traveling with a firearm to or from a firing range. Administrative penalties or licensing suspension may be applied if restrictions have been breached.

License is Required to own Pistols

New York requires a pistol permit in order to purchase, possess, or transport a handgun. This permit is different from a permit to carry a pistol. Even after You receive a pistol permit, You must make a separate application for each pistol You wish to buy or sell. In order to purchase a handgun, the holder of a pistol permit must apply for an amendment to their permit to include the new gun, and can make the purchase only after this application is granted. Once purchased, each handgun must be registered and a description of it (by make, model, caliber, and serial number) must be added to the pistol permit. Applying for a pistol permit can take 4-6 months and requires a background check, and for the applicant to list several character references. The pistol permit must be renewed every 5 years.

Universal Background Checks

Background checks are mandatory for all firearm sales, and every firearm sale (except between family members) must go through an FFL. Documentation of the check must be provided to the New York State Police and You must keep a record of the transaction.

Regulation of Ammunition Sales

Currently all sales of ammunition must go through a registered ammunition dealer, who is to record and report each sale. Internet purchases of ammunition must be sent to an ammunition dealer for pickup, all sales of ammunition must be conducted face to face. This law also mandated that ammunition dealers will be required to conduct background checks on the sale of ammunition, however on 7/10/15 the government suspended implementation of this background check law because the technology to create the ammo background check system is not yet operational. As of 10/3/17 this ammo background check provision is not currently in effect, but it will likely be implemented in the future once the background check system is ready.

Carrying Firearms in Vehicles

New York generally prohibits the carrying of firearms in vehicles by people without a carry permit. Long guns may be carried only if they are unloaded and secured in a locked container that is not readily accessible. Handguns may only be carried by people with carry permits.

Carry in Restaurants That Serve Alcohol

Yes. New York has no laws prohibiting the carrying of firearms in restaurants that serve alcohol, so long as You possess the appropriate Permit/License. Places like Fridays or Chili’s unless they have a “No Gun Sign,” then it is suggested that You not carry into the establishment. This does not include a bar or the bar area of a restaurant – You are prohibited from carrying into these areas. You can carry Your firearm into a restaurant that serves alcohol, but You are prohibited from carrying while You consume alcohol or are under the influence of alcohol.

Self-defense Laws

New York has a Castle Doctrine but no SYG law. There is no duty to retreat when in Your dwelling. You may use force, including deadly force, in defense of yourself or others if You reasonably believe it is necessary to prevent imminent use of deadly force by the aggressor, kidnapping, forcible rape, robbery, arson, or burglary of an occupied building.

Open Carry

The law in New York is extremely vague on open carry. Open carry in public is not legal in most instances. While no law specifically bans open carry, a license to carry is issued to carry concealed as per N.Y. Penal Law § 400 Therefore, pistol permit holders must carry concealed. Open carry is permitted while hunting and on one’s own property. Open carry of unloaded long guns is not explicitly prohibited by any law, but is generally not practiced

Different Firearms

All forms of handguns are required to be registered in New York, with the exception of antique replicas and antiques. An individual is required to have a firearms license to even examine a handgun to be purchased either at a gun show or a gun store. The proper documents will then need to be filed before a purchase can be made, including filing with the local authorities for amendment.

In contrast shotguns and rifles are not required to be registered under any kind of jurisdiction, with the exception of the firearms that require registration. Rifles and shotguns are prohibited from being loaded while in a vehicle or place of business, unless there is a case of emergency.

High-Capacity Magazine Ban

New York bans the manufacture, sale, transportation, and possession of magazines with the capacity to hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. This ban does not grandfather in previously legal magazines, and people were required to dispose of any magazine holding more than 10 rounds by 2/15/13. The only exceptions are for internal tubular/helical magazines chambered in .22, which are allowed to contain more than 10 rounds and antique high-quality magazines, if registered to an associated antique assault weapon.

Assault Weapons Ban

New York maintains an assault weapons ban. The manufacture and sale of assault weapons is prohibited. Possession of assault weapons is prohibited unless they were legally owned by 1/15/13 and registered with the state by 1/15/14. New York does not allow the registration of new assault weapons, and the registration of existing assault weapons must be renewed every 5 years.

Reciprocal Carry

By statute, New York will not recognize another state’s license to carry, however one may transport a firearm in the state pursuant to:

“Sections 265.01, 265.02, 265.03, 265.04, 265.05, 265.10, 265.11, 265.12, 265.13, 265.15 and 270.05 shall not apply to: … 13. Possession of pistols and revolvers by a person who is a nonresident of this state while attending or traveling to or from, an organized competitive pistol match or league competition under auspices of, or approved by, the National Rifle Association and in which he is a competitor, within forty-eight hours of such event or by a person who is a non-resident of the state while attending or traveling to or from an organized match sanctioned by the International Handgun Metallic Silhouette Association and in which he is a competitor, within forty-eight hours of such event, provided that he has not been previously convicted of a felony or a crime which, if committed in New York, would constitute a felony, and further provided that the pistols or revolvers are transported unloaded in a locked opaque container together with a copy of the match program, match schedule or match registration card. Such documentation shall constitute prima facie evidence of exemption, providing that such person also has in his possession a pistol license or firearms registration card issued in accordance with the laws of his place of residence.”

Criminal Provisions

Under New York law, a license to carry a handgun is not valid in any of the following places or circumstances:

  • In a building or on the grounds of an educational institution, including:
    • Any school
    • A college or university
    • On a school bus
  • Court houses
  • Any place that Federal Law prohibits the carry
  • If transporting a firearm through New York (that is NY is not Your destination and You are traveling to a state where possession is permitted) do keep the firearm locked away, unloaded and not easily accessible by driver or passenger
  • Note: there are even stricter rules when/if the Mayor has declared a state of emergency in New York City
  • Gun owners are required to report theft of any of their guns within 24 hours of discovering that theft
  • Requires that guns be safely stored such that they are inaccessible to any household member who has been convicted of a felony or domestic violence crime, been involuntarily committed, or is currently under an order of protection
  • Police are authorized to seize guns from someone who has been certified by a medical professional to be too mentally unstable to safely possess rifles or shotguns

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