First Time Gun Buyers in New York - How Do I Get a Gun?
The process of getting a gun in New York can be long and understandably intimidating. Intimidating because you may not know where to start through this long and potentially hostile process. Hopefully this guide will demystify the process and get you started in the right direction.
First the good news! If you are a New York State resident and do not live in the City of New York you do not need any paperwork, license, permit or permission slip to go to a local sporting goods shop or local gun store and purchase a rifle or a shotgun. Once you go to the store you will need to fill out a form 4473 and pass a NICS (National Instant Criminal Search) before you can complete the purchase.
Now the bad news! If you want a handgun or want a rifle or shotgun and live in New York City you will need to fill out paperwork, pay a fee and apply for permission to have a pistol, rifle or shotgun. In New York State is a felony to touch an unloaded handgun even in a gun store or at the range unless you have applied to permission to possess a firearm and the permission has been granted in the form of a license. Depending on where you live to not expect a license to carry a firearm. Rather, it is more than likely that you may get a license with a lot of restrictions that for example may only allow you to have the gun in your home, at the range, hunting or fishing or some combination of those activities.
A few general rules of thumb when applying for a gun license.
- Be honest! New York Penal law 400 (1) entitled eligibility makes it clear that to be eligible for a handgun license your application must be investigated and that all statements made in the application must be found to be true. The application will ask about arrests. New York does not have expungements. Do not assume that because a case was sealed you can lie and indicate that you were not arrested. This is an easy and common way that applications are denied. Similarly, if you are asked about summonses, lawsuits, bankruptcies, etc., you must be honest. Be truthful in all statements.
- You must not be a convicted felon or have been convicted of a “serious offense”. If you have been convicted of a misdemeanor in New York it is important to consult with an attorney about whether the misdemeanor is considered a “serious offense”. If you have been convicted of a felony you may not apply for a license or possess any pistol rifle or shotgun until your firearms rights are restored. Speak to an attorney before applying.
- You must be of “good moral character”. This is the catchall that is often used to prevent people from getting licenses. People have been denied under this provision for being the victim of a crime, for not paying tickets, for driving offenses and any other excuse they can dream up. If there is something in your background that can be used to accuse you of not having the proper moral character for a gun license, speak to an attorney before you apply.
- Read and follow the directions carefully. Each County has their own procedure and the procedures change often. Read the directions before applying.
Inconsistent Applications - Inconsistent Results:
The bottom line is that each County has their own application process, wait times, types of licenses issued and fees. Some require an online application while others require a paper application. Fees can vary widely. For example, New York City charges $340 plus $88.25 almost $430 while Westchester County just bordering New York City charges only $105.25 plus another $20 if approved. Rockland County charges $150, Nassau charges $200 and Suffolk only $88.25. The vast differences in fees is indicative of a larger and much deeper problem which is the inconsistency in who gets approved, how long the process takes, what type of licenses are issued and the method of application.
Here are links to some common applications:
Westchester County: https://publicsafety.westchestergov.com/about-us/pistol-license-unit
New York City: https://licensing.nypdonline.org/new-app-instruction/
Nassau County: https://www.pdcn.org/251/Pistol-Licenses
Rockland County: http://rocklandgov.com/files/5215/7808/4262/Instructions.pdf
If you have any questions contact one of our experienced firearms lawyers to discuss whether we can help you apply for a license to possess a firearm in New York.