As a whole, New York State has moderate to strict gun laws, while New York City has adopted gun laws that are very stringent. Many of New York State’s gun laws have requirements beyond those mandated by the federal government, while the gun laws in New York City are much stricter than federal laws.
Purchasing a Firearm
In New York State it is not necessary to have a permit to purchase a long gun. However, residents of New York City must have a permit to buy or possess a long gun. When a long gun is purchased in NYC the owner is required to register the firearm with NYC police department, and city laws prevent an individual from buying more than one long gun in a 90 day period.
A permit is required for all residents of New York State in order to legally purchase a handgun. In addition to a permit to purchase a handgun, anyone who owns a handgun must have a handgun license. New York State has banned owning a handgun without a license. In order to obtain a handgun license, an individual must undergo gun safety training and a background check. There are three types of handgun licenses: target and hunting, residence or business premises permit, and unrestricted carry. Licenses issued in other areas of the state are not valid in New York City—NYC residents must obtain a license within the city in order to legally carry a handgun.
New York is a “May Issue” state for concealed carry permits. In general, it is much more difficult to obtain a concealed carry license in the counties closer to New York City. Counties in upstate New York tend to have less stringent requirements for a concealed carry license, more in line with the requirements of “Shall Issue” states. Residents of New York City will have a very difficult time obtaining a concealed carry license, as city laws care very strict requirements and the burden of proof is put on the individual to provide a very good reason for why he or she needs to carry a concealed firearm. Under state law, carrying a concealed weapon is charged as a felony. The only exception to this is if a person is carrying an unloaded weapon and is not in possession of any ammunition.
The laws on open carry are vague in New York State. Openly carrying a handgun or long gun has been made illegal in most cities and counties and in specific circumstances. If an individual has an unrestricted carry license, Penal Law 400 mandates that the firearm be concealed. Based on the unclear open carry laws in New York, it is assumed that open carry is permitted while on one’s own property or while hunting with a permit and a license.
Transporting a Firearm
The state strictly prohibits the transportation of a loaded long gun in a motor vehicle traveling through New York. There are even stricter laws about traveling with a handgun without a valid license from New York State or New York City. Exceptions to the law for New York City include:
- The gun has just been purchased by a licensed dealer in the city and is being transported out of the city unloaded, in a locked container without any stops.
- The motor vehicle is driving continuously through the city without any stops, and the gun is in a locked container and unloaded.
- Being caught with a firearm in a vehicle in New York State or NYC without a valid license may result in a felony charge.
New York State has adopted a very weak version of the Castle Doctrine Law. While an inhabitant of a residence has no duty to retreat from an intruder, he or she will not automatically be protected from criminal charges if deadly force is used after the perceived threat of bodily harm or death. While New York is considered a Castle Doctrine state, many of the official penal codes have been misinterpreted, and the law in New York is not a true Castle Doctrine Law. New York does not have Stand Your Ground Laws, and a person has the duty to retreat when outside of a residence.