New York City and Its Gun Laws

How Strict Are They?

It’s tougher to buy a gun here than in most places, but if you follow the rules you can probably get one. Here is how it works.

Who can buy a gun in New York City?

Anyone who is 21 years old or above and has American citizenship can buy a gun in New York City. Apart from American citizens, those who have an Alien Registration Card are eligible to purchase a gun, too. If someone has lived less than seven years in the country, then he or she would have to submit a good conduct certificate from their country of origin and two letter of references to certify their good character.

What is the process to buy a gun?

Before purchasing a gun, the buyer needs to have a handgun license or rifle/shotgun permit. (The two are separate and one cannot work for another. Fingerprints will be taken separately for both.) The License Division provides a 17-page document that contains the application form to get a handgun license, and a thirteen-page application for a rifle/shotgun permit. This is different from many other states in the country where people do not need a license to buy a gun.

What are the requirements for a license and how much does it cost?

For both handguns and rifle/shotguns, a license application requires two photographs, proof of residence, an original Social Security card, and the applicant’s New York State driver’s license. Often, other documents are asked for, such as a New York State income tax return or a current utilities bill. If you were ever arrested, you have to indicate that and show all the paperwork pertinent to it. This is a requirement even if the charges against you were dismissed. If you have an order of protection issued against you or you have had one issued against someone else, you need to show the records and details about it, too. If you need a gun, shotgun, or rifle because of your job, you need to indicate that, too, through a letter of necessity from your employer.

Along with all of this, you also have to pay $340 with the application for a handgun, $140 for a rifle, plus $90 for fingerprints in both cases.

What else is required during the application process?

An interview. You should know the New York City gun laws and rules for safely using and storing a gun. Other questions that are often asked are why you want to buy a gun, if you have owned a gun before, if you have ever been assaulted or robbed, and how you would transport the gun to and from a shooting range, etc.

There is also a background check—to see if you’re eligible to buy a gun. The FBI runs your name through its National Instant Criminal Background Check System to see if a past criminal record or a mental health issue comes up. The license division of the city says that each case still varies depending on the kind of criminal record or mental health issue, so having any such issues does not necessarily mean you cannot apply for a permit.

The city’s license division says that the time to process an application and get a license can vary from case to case but generally, it takes between three to six months.

What if I want to use a gun for different situations? Does one permit cover it all?

Not really. There are five kinds of permits in New York City and each allow you to use your gun in specific ways:

* A “premise” license lets gun owners use their weapon only on the premises of the address provided on the license. According to the city’s license division, most New York City applicants apply for this license.

* A “carry business” license allows gun owners to use a concealed gun for employment reasons and allows them to carry it from home to workplace.

* A “limited carry” business license restricts gun owners to use the weapon only of the business address on your license.

* A “special carry” license will let owners use a gun for business purposes and take it anywhere as long as the license is valid.

* A “carry guard” license is reserved for security guards and people in similar jobs. This license needs documentation from the employer.

Is it easy to get a permit in the city?

The National Rifle Association-Institute of Legislative Action says it is incredibly hard to get a gun permit in the city compared to other places. Moreover, the license to carry a concealed gun is the hardest to get. It is given on a “may issue” basis, which means you can be denied the privilege of carrying the gun around even if you own one. This is different from many other states and cities in the country, which do not require you to have a license to carry a concealed gun. Neither New York City or New York state allows a gun to be openly carried.

How are New York City laws stricter than most, including New York State?

The state and the city both maintain strict gun policies. For example, you are not allowed to openly carry a gun anywhere in the state. The state and the city also both prohibit the purchase of assault rifles, even though federal laws against such purchases have expired. Some states, like Texas, do not even require a permit for anyone who wants to get a gun.

In New York City, you have to apprise the license division of any development in your life that has involved interaction with law enforcement. For example, if you were involved in a domestic dispute and the police came to the scene, you have to update the license division.

The NYPD does not allow a New York City gun license to be used outside of the city. The city also does not honor gun permits from outside its jurisdiction, including New York State. The state is a bit looser when it comes to rifles and shotguns. They can be purchased without a permit.


Aditi Sangal