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New York City Profile

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Gun Laws Overview

Permit to Purchase Yes Yes
Registration of Firearms Yes Yes
Licensing of Owners Yes Yes
Permit to Carry Yes Yes

NOTE:  Handgun licenses issued elsewhere in New York State are not valid in New York City.

The reader is strongly encouraged to read NY Penal Law section 400.00 on licensing first, and then New York City’s charter and administrative code.  The administrative code is a state statute, passed by the State Legislature.  The New York City police commissioner is the licensing authority for New York City and the licensing division of the New York City police department has issued regulations which apply to firearms in the city. 

Castle Doctrine No Law
No-Net Loss No Legislation
Right to Carry Confidentiality No Provisions
Right to Carry in Restaurants Complete Ban
Right To Carry Laws Rights Restricted-Very Limited Issue
Right To Carry Reciprocity and Recognition None
Right to Keep & Bear Arms State Constitutional Provisions No Provisions
Concealed Carry Reciprocity
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Click on a State to see the Gun Law Profile


Laws on Purchase, Possession and Carrying of Firearms

All Firearms - Purchase and Possession

Only a person age 21 or older can be granted a permit to purchase and possess a firearm. It is unlawful for any person to sell, offer for sale, or dispose of a firearm to any person under the age of 21 within the city of New York, unless such person is otherwise exempt by law.


Exemptions include:

  • persons in the military service when duly authorized to carry or possess a firearm or in pursuit of official duty;
  • persons employed in fulfilling defense contracts requiring possession of a firearm under such contract;
  • police officers;
  • peace officers legally authorized of possess a firearm and permitted to do so by their employer; and
  • participants in special events when authorized by the Police Commissioner.

It is unlawful for any individual to knowingly possess a firearm in public, private or parochial schools of any level including day care, nursery or preschool level through high school and vocational schools. (NYC Charter Chapter 18-C Section 459) and NYS Penal Law Section 265.01 (3).The gun-free school zone (See  NYC Charter Chapter 18-c section 460) includes in, on, or within any building, structure, athletic playing field, playground or school land or within one thousand feet of the real property boundary line compromising any such school. Exceptions include firearms possessed in the home or business of a licensed or permitted person.

Affirmative defenses to prosecution for carrying a firearm within the proximity of a gun-free school zone exist for a licensed or permitted individual possessing a firearm when the firearm is:

  • carried for the personal safety of one’s business or home;
  • purchased or obtained and being transported that same day for the first time to one’s home or business;
  • carried between a police department facility for inspection and one’s business, home, bank, or point of purchase;
  • carried between a gunsmith for demonstrably needed repairs and one’s home or business;
  • used in an athletic or safety program approved by a school, or by the Police Commissioner;
  • in accordance with a contract entered into between a school or business and the individual or an employer of the individual.

It is unlawful to knowingly or with reckless disregard for the safety of another, to discharge a firearm in a school zone. Affirmative defenses to prosecution exist for a licensed or permitted individual when discharged:

  • in self defense;
  • for use in a special event or safety program authorized by a school in a school zone or by the Police Commissioner;
  • by an individual in accordance with a contract entered into between a school or business and the individual or an employer of the individual.

It is unlawful for any person who is the lawful owner or lawful custodian of any firearm to store, place or leave such firearm out of his or her immediate possession or control, without having rendered such weapon inoperable by employing a safety-locking device. The provisions of this section shall not apply to weapons owned or lawfully possessed by a police officer or a federal law enforcement officer.  

It is unlawful for any person or business enterprise to sell any firearm, which does not contain a safety-locking device. A safety-locking device shall mean a design adaptation or attachable accessory that will prevent the use of the weapon by an unauthorized user.  (10-311)

It shall be unlawful for any person, business, licensed manufacturer, licensed importer, or licensed dealer to sell, transfer, deliver or dispose of any firearm in the city of New York unless it is accompanied by the following warning, which shall be on a label affixed to the weapon and on a separate sheet of paper included within the firearm: “THE USE OF A LOCKING DEVICE OR SAFETY LOCK IS ONLY ONE ASPECT OF RESPONSIBLE WEAPON STORAGE. ALL WEAPONS SHOULD BE STORED UNLOADED AND LOCKED IN A LOCATION THAT IS BOTH SEPARATE FROM THEIR AMMUNITION AND INACCESSIBLE TO CHILDREN AND ANY OTHER UNAUTHORIZED PERSONS.” (10-311)

Any person who applies for and obtains authorization to purchase a weapon or otherwise lawfully obtains a firearm weapon is required to purchase or obtain a safety-locking device at the time he or she obtains the firearm.  Violations are subject to imprisonment and or fines.

Handguns - Purchase and Possession

Approval from the Commissioner must be obtained for each handgun purchased under the license. A license contains a description of each handgun possessed by the license holder. Additional handguns may be added by means of a Purchase Authorization Coupon and an amendment to the license under New York State law.


A license is required to possess a handgun for any purpose. The Commissioner of the New York City Police Department is the issuing authority for handgun licenses. Unless indicated otherwise, such licenses and permits shall expire on the first day of the second January after the date of issuance. Every license to carry or possess a pistol or revolver in the city may be issued for a term of no less than one year or more than three years.

There are different handgun licenses with different privileges granted under each. A license for a handgun shall be issued as a:

  • possession license for in a dwelling by a householder or in a place of business by a merchant or storekeeper;
  • have and carry concealed for employment purposes;
  • have and carry concealed, without regard to employment or place of possession;
  • have, possess, collect and carry antique pistols.

A license may be granted to an applicant who is of good moral character, who is over the age of 21 years, who has not been convicted of a serious offense, who states if and when he has ever been treated for mental illness, who is not subject to a protective court order and to whom no good cause exists for the denial of the license. The age requirement shall not apply to persons honorably discharged from the military. (SEE NY Penal Law Section 400.00).

To obtain a handgun license to possess in a household or place of business, no showing of need is required. The applicant must meet the eligibility requirements listed above. The application procedure is administered thru the pistol licensing division, and includes fingerprinting and the submission of 2 photos of the applicant taken within 30 days of the application date.    Only a licensed handgun owner can legally possess handgun ammunition, provided it is in the caliber of the licensed handgun.  (see 10-306 (g)).

Handguns - Carrying

The license to possess a handgun is a license to carry unless restricted, but almost all licenses are restricted. If there are no restrictions the licensee may carry the handgun concealed on or about his person, loaded or unloaded.


Handgun licenses issued elsewhere in New York State are not valid in New York City. New York City licenses are valid throughout New York State. However, a New York State license to carry or possess will be valid in New York City provided that the handguns are transported by the licensee in a locked container, and the trip through New York City is continuous and uninterrupted.

A license to possess a handgun in one’s household or place of business or to possess a target handgun does not authorize the licensee to carry a handgun on or about his person except in the very limited circumstances including transporting unloaded handguns and ammunition in separate locked containers, directly to and from an authorized range, or hunting location.

To obtain a license to carry a concealed handgun the applicant is required to show that proper cause exists for the issuance of the license. The decision to issue or deny this license is within the discretion of the Commissioner, administered through the Pistol Licensing Division. A court will only overturn any decision granting or denying a concealed carry license if it can be shown that the Commissioner abused his discretion.

A license may not be transferred. The license holder must have the license in his possession while carrying a handgun, and each person licensed to possess a handgun on his premises is required to have a license on such premises. The license must be exhibited on demand of any peace officer.

Rifles and Shotguns - Purchase

The permit to possess a rifle or shotgun also serves as a permit to purchase a rifle or shotgun.


No person lawfully in possession of a rifle or shotgun may dispose of it except to:

  • a licensed dealer;
  • a holder of a valid rifle and shotgun permit; or
  • an exempt person such as members of the military, peace officers and non-residents on New York City providing proof of exempt status.

A non-resident of New York City who had not been issued a permit may purchase a rifle or shotgun from a licensed New York City dealer provided that he subscribes and swears or affirms to a written statement that he would not be disqualified from purchasing a rifle or shotgun if he were a city resident, that he is qualified to purchase a rifle or shotgun in the place where he resides and can document that he is a bona-fide resident of a jurisdiction outside New York City.

Non-resident purchasers have 24 hours to remove any long guns so purchased from New York City, and in the event it is necessary, the dealer is authorized to deliver the gun at a terminal to a representative of the railroad, airline or shipping company for placement aboard such train, plane or ship to have the gun and purchaser in same transportation. This exception does not include assault weapons.

There are three ways that a rifle or shotgun sale may be registered with the Firearms Control Section:

  • The New York City dealer who makes the sale is required to register the sale.
  • The permit holder is required to register his purchase when he buys from a dealer outside the city within 72 hours of bringing into the city.
  • In a sale between permit holders the parties involved are required to register the transfer.

Where the sale is made by a City dealer, the dealer issues a certificate of registration to the buyer and sends a copy to the Firearms Control Section. In all other dispositions the Firearms Control Section issues the certificate of registration. The disposing of the rifle or shotgun must be recorded on forms supplied by the Firearms Control Section. The original copy must be sent to the Firearms Control Section within 72 hours of the purchase or acquisition, and one copy will be retained by the seller and one copy by the purchaser or recipient. Both parties must have their registration certificates amended to show the transfer of the rifle or shotgun. 

Rifles and Shotguns - Possession

A permit issued by the Firearms Control Section of the Police Department’s License Division is required to possess a rifle or shotgun in New York City. The permit is valid for 3 years and is subject to automatic renewal, upon sworn application, and without investigation, unless the Police Commissioner has reason to believe that the status of the applicant has changed since the previous application.


It is unlawful for a person to possess a rifle or shotgun unless he is the holder of a permit as well as a certificate of registration, issued by the Firearms Control Section of the Police Department’s License Division for each rifle or shotgun. There is no fee for the certificate of registration; the board keeps a file of all current and past holders of permits and certificates of registration.

The following persons may not obtain a permit to possess a rifle or shotgun:

  • Persons under 21 years of age.
  • Persons convicted of a felony, serious offense, certain assault or domestic violence misdemeanor convictions.
  • Persons not of good moral character.
  • Persons who have suffered any mental illness or been confined to any hospital or institution, public or private, for mental illness.
  • Persons not now free from any mental disorders, defects or diseases that would impair the ability to safely posses or use a rifle or shotgun.
  • Persons subject to court protective disorders.
  • Persons for which good cause exists to deny the permit.

Unless the Police Commissioner determines more time is needed for additional investigation, the Commissioner shall issue the permit or notify the applicant of the denial within 30 days. If additional investigation is needed, the Commissioner will notify the applicant no later than 60 days after the application date regarding the acceptance or denial of the permit application.

If an application for a permit is denied, the applicant can submit an appeal to the Police Department’s License Division. A further appeal can be submitted to the Commanding Officer of the License Division.

Any person holding a valid license to carry a concealed weapon in accordance with the provisions of the New York Penal Law will be issued a shotgun or the rifle permit upon application and payment of the $55.00 fee.

The following persons may possess a rifle or shotgun without a permit:

  • Persons under 18 when in the actual presence or under the direct supervision of an adult who possess a permit, or taking part in an approved competition or target practice in and upon an approved firing range, provided that the rifle or shotgun is otherwise properly registered or exempt from registration by virtue of some other provision of this chapter. This exemption shall not apply to assault weapons.
  • Persons in military service;
  • Peace officers;
  • Non-residents in transit for less than 24 hours;
  • Members of an accredited civilian rifle club who ere given rifles obtained through the DCM;
  • Members of a rifle team representing an educational institution;
  • Persons transporting rifles and shotguns as merchandise;
  • Persons who possess antique rifles and shotguns, defined as those manufactured prior to 1894 and replicas which are not designed to fire fixed ammunition, or for which fixed ammunition is not commercially available;
  • Inheritance, whether by testamentary bequest or by the laws of intestacy, except that the person who receives or acquires said rifle or shotgun is subject to obtaining a permit as well as a certificate of registration. If the heir or legatee of the owner of such a rifle or shotgun does not qualify to possess the rifle or shotgun, the rifle or shotgun may be possessed by the heir or legatee for the purpose of sale for a period not exceeding 180 days or further limited period beyond the 180 days as may be approved by the Commissioner, extensions in no event to exceed a total of 90 days.

Any New York City resident acquiring a rifle or shotgun outside the city shall make application for a permit and certificate of registration within 72 hours after bringing such weapon into the city. Pending the issuance of such permit and/or certificate the rifle or shotgun must be deposited at the nearest police precinct.

Non-residents in transit who are carrying rifles and shotguns with them are exempt from the permit and registration requirements provided they remain in New York City for less than 24 hours and the rifles and shotguns are at all times unloaded and in a closed case, or in a locked automobile trunk.

Only a rifle or shotgun owner with a permit is allowed to possess ammunition suitable for the registered rifle or shotgun and is allowed to possess a magazine for the registered rifle or shotgun, provide it does not exceed five rounds capacity. 

Rifles and Shotguns - Carrying

It is unlawful for a person to carry a rifle or shotgun on about his person or in a vehicle without a permit and certificate of registration for such rifle or shotgun. A rifle or shotgun carried in a vehicle must be unloaded and not readily accessible. Rifles and shotguns carried in an automobile trunk need not be cased, but they must be unloaded.

It is unlawful to possess or carry a loaded rifle or shotgun in public. Unloaded shotguns or rifles carried or possessed in public must be completely enclosed or contained in a non-transparent case.

Antiques and Replicas

Exempt from permit and certificate of registration requirements are antique rifles and shotguns incapable of being fired or discharged or which do not fire fixed ammunition or those weapons manufactured prior to 1894 and replicas for which fixed ammunition is not commercially available.


Also exempt is any unloaded muzzle loading pistol or revolver with a matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap, or similar type of ignition system, or a pistol or revolver, which uses fixed cartridges, which are no longer available in the ordinary channels of commercial trade. This includes replicas. A license would be required to possess these handguns when the ammunition necessary to discharge them is possessed simultaneously.


New York City has two definitions of firearm. The New York City Charter has a broader meaning of firearm to include any firearm (defined by the New York Administrative Code), rifle, shotgun, assault weapon, or machine gun. The New York City Administrative Code more narrowly defines firearm as any pistol or revolver, a shotgun having a barrel(s) less than eighteen inches in length, a rifle having a barrel(s) less than sixteen inches in length, or any weapon made from a shotgun or rifle with an overall length of less than 26 inches. Assault weapons (defined in the NYC Administrative code) are not considered firearms except as specifically provided, making this second definition different than the New York State Law.  


The definition of assault weapon includes semiautomatic center fire or rimfire rifle or semiautomatic shotgun, which has one or more of the following features:

  • folding or telescoping stock or no stock;
  • pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon;
  • bayonet mount;
  • flash suppressor or threaded barrel designed to accommodate a flash suppressor;
  • barrel shroud;
  • grenade launcher.

In addition, the Commissioner shall, by rule, designate specific semiautomatic center fire or rimfire rifles or semiautomatic shotguns, identified by make, model and/or manufacturer’s name, as within the definition of assault weapon, if the Commissioner determines that such weapons are particularly suitable for military and not sporting purposes, which includes:

  • Any shotgun with a revolving-cylinder magazine;
  • Any part, or combination of parts, designed or redesigned or intended to readily convert a rifle or shotgun into an assault weapon.

The definition of an assault weapon shall not include any rifle or shotgun modified to render it permanently inoperative.

It is unlawful for any person to possess or dispose of an assault weapon except for members of the military, persons employed with defense contracts for testing, and persons voluntarily surrendering an assault weapon to the Police Commissioner.

Ammunition feeding device means magazines, belts, feedstrips, drums or clips capable of being attached to or utilized with firearms, rifles, shotguns or assault weapons.

The presence of a rifle, or shotgun, or rifle or shotgun ammunition, in a vehicle, room, dwelling or structure, without a rifle and shotgun permit therefore and a certificate of registration therefore, or the presence of an assault weapon in a vehicle, room, dwelling or structure, shall be presumptive evidence of possession thereof by all persons occupying the vehicle, room, dwelling or structure at the time.

It is unlawful to alter, change, remove, disfigure, obliterate or deface the name of the make, model, manufacturer’s or serial number of a rifle, shotgun, handgun, or assault weapon.

Whenever the Mayor declares a state of emergency in New York City, the following activities are prohibited:

  • the sale or transfer of possession of any ammunition, guns and other firearms of any size description;
  • the displaying by or in any store or shop of any ammunition, guns and other firearms of any size or description;
  • the possession in a public place of a rifle or shotgun by any person, except police or military in performance of official duty;
  • the possession of any rifle or shotgun in any place, public or private, by a nonresident who has not been issued a permit by the Police Commissioner.

It is unlawful to fire or discharge any gun, pistol, rifle, fowling piece or other firearm in the City, except for certain premises designated by the Police Commissioner.

Non-residents of New York City may apply for a rifle or shotgun permit subject to the same conditions, regulations, and requirements as residents of New York City.    

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.