Gun laws in New York
New York has among the most restrictive gun laws in the nation. Most New York State gun laws are covered in two sections of New York Penal law: Article 265 - Firearms and Other Dangerous Weapons; and Article 400 - Licensing and Other Provisions Relating to Firearms. These laws ban handgun possession and provide exemptions, including individuals licensed to carry handguns, or to possess them for other reasons, including sports, repair, or disposal.
Statewide, New York enforces various firearm related prohibitions, many proscriptions similarly listed in the now-expired Federal Assault Weapons Ban. On January 15, 2013, the state assault weapons ban was made more restrictive by the NY SAFE Act. Specified rifle magazines are banned: a) manufactured after 1994; and b) the magazine holds in excess of 10 rounds (handguns included). A 10 round magazine is permissible, but may only contain 7 rounds. Any semi-automatic rifle or shotgun with just one of these features are banned: 1) pistol grip; 2) bayonet lug; 3) telescoping or folding stock; 4) flash suppressor; 5) threaded barrel; or 6) grenade launcher. The SAFE Act expanded the ban to add the following features: 7) muzzle brake; 8) muzzle compensator; 9) thumbhole stock; and 10) foregrip. All semi-automatic versions of "assault" style rifles and shotguns purchased prior to January 15, 2013 are grandfathered, but must be registered within one year of the SAFE Act passage.
New York is a "may-issue" state, in that the individual licensing official (typically a local police chief or sheriff) has discretion to issue a license or permit to possess handguns, or carry a concealed firearm. The licensing authority may require the licensee go through firearms training and education, or dictate the conditions under which a permit holder can possess handguns or carry a concealed weapon. Unlike other "may issue" states where permits are typically valid statewide regardless of the locality in which they are issued, New York State concealed carry permits are not automatically valid statewide, and some localities do not recognize permits issued from elsewhere in the state. Some other localities will only recognize permits issued from jurisdictions with similar standards for granting permits, while other jurisdictions will recognize any valid New York State permit, regardless of where it was issued. Additionally, New York does not recognize concealed carry permits issued by any other state, and non-residents are generally forbidden from obtaining a New York State permit.
The varied New York licensing and permit authorities has resulted in confusing handgun licensing policies, which a licensee must nevertheless abide by when outside the jurisdiction of permit issuing authority. For example, regardless of license, all New York residents with a concealed carry permit must still obtain a New York State Pistol License, apply for a purchase document for each handgun purchased, and may possess only those handguns the license holder has registered with the state.
Of all the states that issue carry pistol licenses, New York State has arguably the strictest handgun licensing policies in the nation. New York City has even stricter laws, including those regulating handguns exclusively kept at home, thereby making it difficult to virtually impossible for ordinary citizens to obtain, possess, or carry firearms lawfully within New York City. Permits have been issued, however, to a small number of celebrities, politicians, attorneys and other well-connected individuals. The combined non-refundable fees required to apply for a New York City concealed carry permit average around $5,000, with no guarantee the applicant will actually be issued a permit.
The constitutionality of many of New York's restrictive firearms laws, including the newly enacted SAFE Act, are being challenged by lawsuits at the state and federal levels.
- 1 Summary table
- 2 Handgun licensing
- 3 "Assault Weapons"
- 4 New York City
- 5 Rifles and shotguns, antique handguns
- 6 Non-resident travel through N.Y.
- 7 Federal protections
- 8 Miscellaneous laws
- 9 NY SAFE Act
- 10 See also
- 11 References
|Subject/Law||Long guns||Handguns||Relevant statutes||Notes|
|State Permit to Purchase?||No||Yes||S 265.20, S 265.01||No NYS permit is required for long guns. NYC residents must apply for and receive a rifle/shotgun permit from the NYC police department, must register every long gun purchased with said permit with the NYC police department and purchases are limited to one long gun per ninety day period. Handguns require a permit. Permits are issued by County or State Supreme Court judges/justices outside of New York City, Nassau and Suffolk Counties, with a background check. Permits for those wanting to carry concealed are issued on a "may issue" basis, whereas permits to merely purchase and possess handguns in the home are issued on a "shall issue" basis. There is an application fee for each Permit, as well as an amendment fee for each handgun added to the permit.|
|Firearm registration?||No*||Yes||S 700.00, S 265.01||No registration for long guns. All handguns must be registered under a license. There is a $3 registration fee. Handguns are registered with purchase permit. The serial number and sale is noted down. It is illegal to possess any un-registered firearm. Antique weapons are exempted from this. All handguns must travel in the manner one's license is issued. No record is needed of previously owned handguns with laws enforcement. *All rifles classified as "assault weapons" must be registered with the state by January 15, 2014.|
|Owner license required?||No||Yes||S 265.20, S 265.01||No license is required for long guns. New York State has a handgun ban in place. Exceptions are to those who own a license. They are normally restricted to three types, residence or business premises permit (must issue generally), Target & Hunting and Unrestricted Carry. Target and hunting allows carry while engaged in those activities. Unrestricted allows carry at anytime. All permits issued outside of New York City are not valid in New York City, EXCEPT for retired police and federal law enforcement officers with that status marked on their permit, and for armored car guards on duty. The minimum age to be issued a handgun license is 21 unless you are a former or current member of the armed forces or law enforcement.|
|Carry permits issued?||Yes||Yes||S 265.20, S 265.01||New York issues CCWs on a "may issue" basis. CCW Issuance is different by county. Generally it is harder to obtain a permit in counties closer to large New York cities. Most Counties that aren't a part of downstate New York have shall/reasonable issuance policies, but may administratively restrict where you can carry your weapon (such as only for target shooting or hunting). It is not a crime to carry a weapon under a Target or Hunting permit for other purposes, but if caught or reported the permit will likely be revoked. Concealed carry without any kind of permit must be charged as a felony unless the weapon is unloaded and no ammunition for it is in possession of the person carrying.|
|"Assault weapon" law?||Yes||Yes||S 265.00, S 265.02||Possession of assault weapons is prohibited, except for those legally possessed on January 15, 2013 and registered with the state by January 15, 2014. New York City, Buffalo, Albany, and Rochester have enacted their own assault weapon bans. Law enforcement and retired law enforcement are exempt from the "assault weapons" ban.|
|Magazine Capacity Restriction?||Yes||Yes||§ 265.02||Magazine size limited to 10 rounds however, it is illegal to load more than 7 rounds into a magazine except when at shooting range, hunting, or in one's dwelling. Even if you have a concealed carry license you are only allowed to have only 7 rounds in a magazine. .22 caliber tubular magazines are exempt from the law. Law enforcement and retired law enforcement are exempt from the 10 round and 7 round limit.|
|Title II (National Firearms Act) weapons restricted?||Yes||Yes||S 265.02, S 265.02||Ownership of machine guns, suppressors, SBR, and SBS are prohibited to the average citizen. DDs are permitted except for rockets with greater than 3 ounces of propellant, which are prohibited.|
|Open Carry?||No*||No*||S 265.35, S 265.01||Open carry is effectively banned under state law. *However some counties (such as Delaware County) will issue permits to open carry, but not concealed carry. Licensed handgun owners have been known to open carry in that county|
|Castle Doctrine Law?||Yes*||Yes*||§ 35.20||*New York has a castle doctrine law. It allows self defense against home invasion.|
|State Preemption of local restrictions?||No*||No*||None||New York preempts only handgun licensing. Places such as Buffalo, Rochester, Albany, and most notably New York City have put in more restrictive gun laws, such as licensing of long guns and 5 round magazine limits.|
|Peaceable Journey laws?||Yes||Yes||S 265.10||With certain restrictions (see below), most notably magazines are not exempt.|
NOTE: Different laws in New York City (See Below)
The purchase of a handgun in New York State is limited to only those individuals who hold a valid Pistol Permit issued by a county or major city within New York State and present to the seller a purchase document, issued by the licensing authority, with the specific make, model, caliber and serial number of the handgun indicated on the document. The possession of a handgun in New York State is limited only to those individuals who hold a valid Pistol License and are in possession of a registered handgun (one that appears on the license, indicating the specific make, model, caliber and serial number of the handgun). The carry of a handgun in New York State is limited only to those individuals who hold a valid Pistol License, possess a registered handgun, and are carrying said handgun in compliance with the restrictions as they appear on the license and other applicable state and federal law.
New York State pistol licenses are not issued to out-of-state or part-time residents. New York does not honor licenses or permits from any other states, though some states will recognize New York licenses without a formal agreement. There are no provisions for an out-of-state handgun owner (other than on- or off-duty law enforcement, on-duty military or non-resident business owners with a NYS Pistol License) to carry a handgun within New York State. A pistol license is required to physically examine a handgun for purchase at a gun store or gun show.
Application for a handgun license is through the individual's county or major city of primary residence, usually the police/sheriff's department, or a separate licensing authority (i.e. "The County Pistol Clerk"). After initial approval on the county level, the application is then passed on to the New York State Police for further approval. As part of the application process, the applicant will be required to ask friends or associates to act as personal references. These individuals may be required to fill out forms, varying in length by county, attesting to the applicant's 'good character.' Pistol licenses can take from less than four months to more than six months for approval, even though N.Y. law allows the licensing authorities no more than six months to process a license.
Types of licenses and restrictions
In addition to laws pertaining to the entire state of New York, there are additional laws and statutes pertaining to licensing and permits in some of the major cities of the state. Cities with stricter laws include Albany, Buffalo, Rochester and New York City. However NY City is the only place a pistol license is restricted from Carrying and must have an uninterrupted trip through the city with the gun and ammo locked up separately when traveling through NY City. Pistol licenses are generally of two types: carry or premises-only. "Premises-only" is the most common license issued in New York City and is supposed to be "Shall-Issue." Restrictions can be placed on either of the above types of licenses; for example, many jurisdictions allow handgun license holders to carry handguns only while hunting (i.e. sportsman's license) and/or traveling to and from the range (i.e. target license). These restrictions, however, are administrative in nature; carrying a licensed, registered handgun outside of the restrictions indicated on a pistol license should result in administrative (suspension, revocation) penalties only.
Regional and cultural differences throughout the state
Restrictions on New York State handgun licenses vary greatly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In contrast to "no carry" New York City, and some counties which only issue "to and from target shooting and hunting" licenses, many upstate New York counties issue unrestricted Pistol Licenses that allow unrestricted concealed carry of a loaded handgun (except for exceptions such as schools, court houses/rooms, secure areas of airports). An unrestricted carry license is the only New York State carry Pistol License that allows armed self-defense as a primary reason for carrying a handgun.
Some of the most rural upstate counties (such as Delaware County) specifically do not enforce the vague "concealed" language in New York State's licensing law, effectively allowing open carry of a licensed handgun. Paradoxically, except for visiting New York City (which does not recognize any other county or city's license), the restrictions (or lack thereof) as they appear on the license stay with the license as the individual travels from county to county within the state. For example, the holder of a Delaware County pistol license (unrestricted carry) can carry his concealed handgun into a restaurant in Suffolk County, while his Suffolk County friend cannot. Not all of the most pro-gun counties of New York are particularly far from New York City either; many tourists getting away from New York City for a weekend trip to the country have been quite surprised at the prevalence of openly carried firearms of all types, only several hours from home.
This dichotomy in New York State handgun license policies (upstate rural/downstate urban) is an outgrowth of two specific cultural forces: the strength of home rule in New York State, and the tradition of the various hunting seasons in the rural counties.
NY state law defines an "assault weapon" as:
- Semi-automatic rifles able to accept detachable magazines and one or more of the following:
- Folding or telescoping stock
- Pistol grip
- Bayonet mount
- Flash suppressor, Muzzle brake, Muzzle compensator, or threaded barrel designed to accommodate one
- Grenade launcher (more precisely, a muzzle device that enables launching or firing rifle grenades, though this applies only to muzzle mounted grenade launchers and not those mounted externally).
- Thumbhole stock
- Semi-automatic pistols with detachable magazines and one or more of the following:
- Magazine that attaches outside the pistol grip
- Threaded barrel to attach barrel extender, flash suppressor, handgrip, or suppressor
- Barrel shroud that can be used as a hand-hold
- Unloaded weight of 50 oz (1.4 kg) or more
- A semi-automatic version of a fully automatic firearm.
- A folding, telescoping or thumbhole stock
- Any revolving cylinder shotgun or any semi-automatic shotguns with one or more of the following:
- Folding, telescoping or thumbhole stock
- A second handgrip or a protruding grip that can be held by the non-trigger hand
- Fixed magazine capacity of more than 7 rounds
- Ability to accept a detachable magazine.
"Large Capacity Feeding Device" is any belt, drum, strip, magazine, or similar instrument used to feed ammunition into a firearm that has a capability of holding more than seven rounds. (NOTE: Legal to possess magazines that hold ten rounds, but can not load more than seven in them unless target shooting or hunting.) 
The first exception for the previous "assault weapons" ban is that anything classified above is not an "assault weapon" if manufactured BEFORE September 13, 1994. However with the new laws there are no exceptions.
New York state resident Police officers may still own "assault weapons" and "high capacity magazines". Retired Police officers are not exempt yet.
Military members stationed within New York state may still bring assault weapons into New York, provided the military member has approval from his or her command.
New York City
|Subject/Law||Long guns||Handguns||Relevant statutes||Notes|
|Permit to Purchase?||No||Yes||§ 1-03, § 1-04, §2-03, § 5-01, § 5-25||Only license needed for Long guns. Separate permit required for each handgun.|
|Firearm registration?||Yes||Yes||§ 1-03, § 1-04, §2-03||Registration for all firearms in place.|
|Owner license required?||Yes||Yes||§ 1-03, § 1-04, §2-03, § 5-01||Owner licenses are required for all guns.|
|Carry permits issued?||Yes||Yes||§ 5-01, § 5-03, § 5-04||Permits usually only issue to retired LEOs, celebrities, and armed guards. A combination of the permit application fee and other administrative fees average around $5,000 and are non-refundable.|
|Assault weapon law?||Yes||Yes||§ 10-301||More restrictive version of the NYS law, with 5 round magazine limit for long guns and 10 for handguns.|
|NFA weapons restricted?||Yes||Yes||§ 10-301||All NFA weapons are outlawed.|
|Peaceable Journey laws?||No||No||None|
Residents of New York City who wish to obtain a pistol license must apply through the New York Police Department License Bureau at One Police Plaza in lower Manhattan. The choice of licenses are: Unrestricted Concealed Carry License (for personal self-defense, generally considered off-limits to an average citizen), Restricted Business Carry License, Restricted Target License and Restricted Premises-only License.
NYC Unrestricted Concealed Carry Licenses are valid throughout the rest of the state. Security Guards and business people who regularly carry valuables may be issued a Restricted Business Carry License which is valid only while conducting the business specifically as it was described, in great detail, on the application for the license. NYC target or premises-only licenses are the licenses issued to average citizens who cannot show a need for self-defense greater than any another average citizen. They are clearly marked: RESTRICTED - NOT FOR CARRY and require the licensee to obtain special permission from the NYPD License Bureau to leave the city with the handgun. Most licenses issued in New York City are for on-premises possession only, for self-defense within the home or business. Transporting the handgun (via a locked-box) to and from a target range must be done according to a strictly limited schedule pre-approved by the NYPD Licensing Bureau. NYC target licenses allow carrying to and from the range within a "locked-box" at any time at the discretion of the licensee, but prohibit the possession of the licensed handgun in a loaded condition within the home, thereby prohibiting use for self-defense within the home or business. Applicants for, and holders of, a NYC target license must be members of an NYPD License Bureau-approved target range within NYC at the time of application for the license. Traveling through New York City with a license issued from another jurisdiction within New York State must be done carefully (locked box, in vehicle's trunk, no unnecessary stops).
A person carrying a firearm without a valid permit in New York City could be charged with "Criminal Possession of a Handgun," a felony. Unlawfully carrying a firearm in New York City is typically punishable by a prison term of 3 1/2 years. A high-profile example of the penalties associated with New York's restrictive gun laws is the 2-year prison sentence served by former New York Giants player Plaxico Burress, after pleading guilty to a charge of Criminal Possession of a Handgun, stemming from him accidentally shooting himself in the leg at a New York City nightclub while carrying a pistol for which he did not have a New York City concealed carry permit.
New York City's gun laws are currently being challenged by the New York State Rifle and Pistol association in Federal Court, claiming the laws infringe on second amendment rights.
Rifles and shotguns, antique handguns
Prior to January 15, 2013, rifles and shotguns did not have to be registered in any jurisdiction within New York State except for New York City. Since enactment of the New York Safe Act, all grandfathered operable "assault" style rifles and shotguns purchased prior to January 15, 2013, must now be registered. The deadline to register these weapons is on or before January 14, 2014. New York City requires registration and has additional restrictions such as they cannot take a detachable magazine having a capacity greater than five rounds. Laws pertaining to the handling of rifles and shotguns are in sharp contrast to those of handguns. For example, licensed carry of a handgun on one's person allows the handgun to be fully loaded, including within an automobile, while visiting a place of business or while crossing a public road while hunting. A rifle or shotgun cannot be kept loaded in any of the above circumstances except for a self-defense emergency. Antiques and replica handguns must be registered to be legally loaded and fired.
Non-resident travel through N.Y.
New York state law provides restricted exceptions for interstate transportation of firearms by non-residents. Non-residents may transport through New York state any lawful firearm to any place without New York where an individual may lawfully possess and carry such firearm.
While in transit within New York state, the firearm must be unloaded. The firearm and any ammunition for it must not be easily accessible by anyone in the vehicle's driver or passenger area. For example, the gun and ammunition must be kept in the storage area of the vehicle, such as a car's "trunk." In vehicles without a storage area separate from the driver or passenger compartment, the firearm or ammunition shall be contained in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console.". You may also transport a firearm for target competition purposes, "by a person who is a member or coach of an accredited college or university target pistol team" and "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 48 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 48 hours of such event."
New York State is of particular concern to interstate motorists who travel with firearms, because New York separates all of New England from the bulk of the United States. This means that under the Firearm Owners Protection Act, all people traveling through New York City and New York state with firearms are protected by federal law, however they must have their firearms unloaded and locked in a hard case where they are not readily accessible (e.g. in the trunk of a vehicle). They can never be in possession of a high capacity feeding device made post-ban.
Passengers present in airports with luggage containing unregistered handguns have run into separate legal problems. In 2005, Gregg C. Revell was traveling through Newark Airport since it was a scheduled connection between his departure city, Salt Lake City, Utah and his final destination, Allentown, Pennsylvania. But because of the missed flight to Allentown, his luggage—which included a properly checked firearm—was returned to him and he was forced to spend the night in New Jersey. When he returned to the airport the following day and checked his handgun, he was arrested for illegal possession since the gun was not registered in New Jersey, as required by state law. Mr. Revell challenged his arrest and filed suit for civil damages, but he lost his lawsuit after The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit held in Gregg C. Revell v. Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, held that (exceptions for interstate travelers) does not apply to Revell because his firearm and ammunition were readily accessible to him during his stay in New Jersey."
Youth and Firearms: Youths between ages 14 and 21 may shoot a handgun at a range only if several requirements are met.
Cross Registration of Handguns: Some counties limit who can register a handgun on their license, with some allowing cross registration of a handgun from any other licensee, to licensed family members only, to no handgun can be cross registered. N.Y. law does not address this issue. Sharing use of a handgun not listed on your license is only allowed at a certified range with the licensed handgun owner present.
Examples of Local Laws: New York City, for example, limits the color of all guns and bans any BB Guns, paint ball guns and pellet guns. Yonkers requires a handgun license before you ask for a license to own a BB/Pellet handgun.
Renewal Fees: Periodic renewal fees, even on restricted carry licenses like NYC's $340 for a three-year license, are highly prohibitive as well. Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester and several other suburban counties are slightly less prohibitive, allowing a highly restricted "to and from the range only" form of concealed carry. However this restriction carries no weight of law and penalties for violating such are administrative in nature and not criminal. There are also 24 hour ranges available.
Periodic Renewal of Licenses: Most counties in N.Y. issue "lifetime" licenses. Elsewhere than in the City of New York and the counties of Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester, any license to carry or possess a pistol or revolver shall be in force and effect until revoked. Renewable licenses vary in cost and last from the 3-year New York City's license to five years in the other counties, with New York City's license costing $340 every three years.Which by Contrast is $10.00 in Suffolk County for 5 years.
NY SAFE Act
In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, New York became the first state to enact stricter gun control laws when it passed the NY SAFE Act on January 15, 2013. New measures included additional restrictions on so-called assault weapons, reducing the maximum allowed magazine capacity from ten rounds to seven rounds, background checks on almost all gun sales including private sales, additional requirements for reporting of persons with mental health issues, and increased penalties for certain gun crimes. The SAFE Act also includes provisions allowing law enforcement to pre-emptively seize a person's firearms without a warrant or court order if they have probable cause that the person in question may be mentally unstable or intends to use the weapons to commit a crime. This provision makes New York the second state in the country, behind neighboring Connecticut, to have a weapons seizure law.
- NY Penal Code § 799.99 Definitions. (2010)
- NY Penal Code § 265.02 Criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree. (2010)
- NY Penal Code § 265.10 Manufacture, transport, disposition and defacement of weapons and dangerous instruments and appliances. (2010)
- Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives - State Laws and Published Ordinances - Firearms
- Legal Community Against Violence - New York Laws, Policies, and Statistics
- NRA-ILA - Synopsis of New York Laws
- "NY SAFE Act: Rifles — Banned Features"
- New York passes major gun control law -- first since Newtown massacre - NBCNews.com, January 15, 2013
- criminaldefenselawyer.com New York Gun Laws for Use, Possession, and Carrying
- New York City Administrative Code § 10-131 Firearms. (2010)
- NY Penal Code Article 400 - LICENSING AND OTHER PROVISIONS RELATING TO FIREARMS (2010)
- Handgunlaw.us States that Honor "This" State's Permit/License
- N.Y. Const. art. IX, §1(a) & §2(b)(1)
- More parts of NY SAFE Act take effect - Oneidadailydispatch.com, March 18, 2013
- Gun Licensing FAQ
- NYC Admin. Code § 10-131(g)
- OPINIONS OF THE STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL: "December 19, 1977 (informal No. 77- 00): Unloaded replica muzzle loading percussion pistols may be sold, purchased and possessed without a license. Simultaneous possession of these pistols and the necessary ammunition to discharge them requires a license. PL 265.00 (14) & (15)."
- NY Penal Code § 265.20(12) & (13). (2010)
- Title 18 USC §926A
- 598 F.3d 128; 2010 U.S. App. LEXIS 5803
- NY Penal Code § 265.20(7)(e). (2010)
- NY Penal Code § 265.20(7)(a). (2010)
- NY Penal Code § 400.00(10). (2010)
- Cuomo Signs NY SAFE Act: 13 Provisions Of The New Gun Control Law - Huffingtonpost.com, January 16, 2013