NYS Gun Laws
New York State Gun Laws
These laws may or may not be applicable any longer. With the NY SAFE Act now in effect much of the assault weapon information below is invalid, along with changes to the classification of some handguns. Ammo purchasing will no longer be allowed online and background checks will need to be performed for ammo purchases. There are a number of lawsuits in process and until everything is sorted out to completion, we will not begin to try to sort all of it out. This page remains as a reminder of what the laws were prior to January 15th, 2013.
|Rifles and Shotguns||Handguns|
|Permit to Purchase||No*||Yes|
|Registration of Firearms||No*||Yes|
|Licensing of Owners||No*||Yes|
|Permit to Carry||No*||Yes|
|* Except in New York City|
State Constitutional Provision
None. However, Article 2, Section 4 of the New York Civil Rights Law provides: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms cannot be infringed.”
No permit is required for the purchase of a rifle or shotgun (except in New York City).
A license to carry or posses a pistol or revolver is required to purchase a handgun. (See HANDGUNSPOSSESSION and CARRY) Elsewhere than the City of New York, a person licensed to carry or possess a pistol or revolver may apply at any time to the licensing officer in the county of their residence for amendment of his or her license to include one or more such handguns or to cancel a handgun held under the license.
No person, firm or corporation engaged in the retail business of selling rifles, shotguns or handguns, shall sell, deliver or transfer any such gun to another person unless the transferee is provided with a gun locking device and a label on safe storage.
Any business selling firearms must post a sign where the firearms are displayed or sold stating in bold print: “The use of a locking device or safety lock is only one aspect of responsible firearm storage. For increased safety firearms should be stored unloaded and locked in a location that is both separate from their ammunition and inaccessible to children and any other unauthorized person.”
Any manufacturer that ships, transports or delivers a handgun to any person in this state shall include in the container a separate sealed container that encloses: a shell casing of a bullet or projectile discharged from such handgun, and any additional information that identifies such handgun. A gunsmith or dealer in firearms licensed in this state shall, within ten days of delivering to any person a handgun received by such gunsmith or dealer, forward to the division of state police, along with the original transaction report, the sealed container enclosing the shell casing from such handgun received from the
Upon receipt of the sealed container, the division of state police shall cause to be entered in an automated electronic data-bank pertinent data and other ballistic information relevant to identification of the shell casing and to the handgun from which it was discharged. All firearm exhibitors must conduct a national instant criminal background check prior to all firearm sales or transfers, including sales or transfers of rifles or shotguns at a gun show.
It is lawful for NY residents to purchase or obtain rifles or shotguns in a contiguous state and to receive and transport said rifle and shotguns into the state, provided the person is otherwise eligible to possess a rifle or shotgun under NY law.
Possession – Rifles and Shotguns
There is no state license requirement for the possession of a rifle or shotgun, so long as the rifle has barrel(s) at least 16 inches in length and the shotgun has barrel(s) at least 18 inches in length.
It is unlawful for any person convicted of a felony, other serious offense, or who been certified as not suitable to possess a rifle or shotgun (mentally incompetent) to possess a firearm.
Generally, it is unlawful for anyone under the age of 16 to possess any firearm; however, a rifle or shotgun may be possessed by a person between 12 and 16 who is engaged in target shooting on a range supervised by a military officer, certified instructor, or a parent, guardian or a person over the age of eighteen designated in writing by such parent or guardian provided the adult has a hunter safety certificate.
It is unlawful to possess 20 or more firearms as defined under NY law outside one’s home or business.
Possession – Handguns
A license is needed to possess a handgun in one’s home or place of business. Application is made to the licensing officer of the city or county where the applicant resides, is principally employed, or where his principal place of business as a merchant or storekeeper is located. An alien may obtain a pistol license if he or she meets these requirements. The determination whether to grant the license is completely within the discretion of the licensing officer. However, the licensing officer must state specifically and concisely in writing the reasons for a denial. A denial can only be overturned in court if the denial is shown to be arbitrary and capricious.
Westchester County may require the applicant to successfully complete a firearms safety course and test in addition to meeting the other requirements. Other counties also require a safety course for license issuance.
A license may be granted to an applicant who is of good moral character, who is over 21 years of age, 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. (Persons between age 18 and 21 may possess a handgun at an indoor or outdoor pistol range located in or on premises owned or occupied by a duly incorporated organization organized for conservation purposes or to foster proficiency in small arms. A person between the ages of 18 and 21 may also possess a handgun at a target pistol shooting competition under the auspices of or approved by the NRA and while under immediate supervision).
An investigation will be conducted regarding all statements required in the application. This includes taking the fingerprints and physical descriptive data of the applicant. One copy of the fingerprints will be forwarded to the FBI for a search of the applicant’s criminal records. The failure or refusal of the FBI to make the fingerprint check shall not constitute the sole basis for refusal to issue a permit.
The licensing officer may, in his discretion, add restrictions to the license, limiting the places where the handgun may be kept or carried. No demonstration of need to possess is required to obtain an “on premises only,” license valid for one’s home or place of business. A demonstration of need must be shown, however, for a license not restricted to one of those locations. An “on premises only” license authorizes the possession of a handgun only at the location written on the license. It does not authorize the holder to take such handgun to any other place. (It should be noted further that an “on premises only” license technically does not authorize the holder even to transport the handgun from its place of purchase to the location stated on the license.)
Applications for licenses must be acted upon within 6 months after presentment. If there is a delay, there must be written notice to the applicant stating the reasons. Such delay may be excused for good cause only.
If issued, a license is valid until revoked, except in New York City where a license shall expire not more than 3 years after the date of issuance, and in Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester Counties where a license shall expire not more than 5 years after the date of issuance.
A license fee is fixed by the board of supervisors in each county, with a $10.00 limit prescribed by state law. The Division of Criminal Justice Services sets the fingerprinting fee. The fee for each amendment to the license is $3.00 ($5.00 in Suffolk County). In New York City and Nassau County, the City Council and Board of Supervisors, respectively, set the license fees without regard to the state law limitation.
Each handgun possessed must be listed on the license by make, model, caliber and serial number. The only exception is possession of a properly licensed handgun by another licensee or license applicant at a target range.
The name and address submitted by an applicant to obtain the license becomes a matter of public record.
A licensee who moves his residence to another licensing jurisdiction within the state shall provide notification of the change in writing within ten days after such change occurs, and a record of such change shall be inscribed by such licensee on the reverse side of his license. Failure to notify of the change of residence may result in an inability to obtain amendments, and possible revocation of the license.
A license to possess a handgun serves also as a license to carry unless restricted.
A license to carry or possess a pistol or revolver, not otherwise limited as to place or time of possession, shall be effective throughout the state, except that the license shall not be valid within the city of New York unless a special permit granting validity is issued by the police commissioner of that city.
An applicant for a license to carry outside the home must be required to show, in addition to the requirement for possession, that proper cause exists for the issuance of a carry license, including, for example, target shooting, hunting, or self-defense.
The license can be amended to include one or more additional or different handguns. The licensee is required to carry the license on his person at all times when carrying a handgun.
A loaded handgun may be carried in a vehicle by a properly licensed individual. (Loaded means a firearm with ammunition loaded in magazine or chamber or any firearm which is possessed by one who at the same time possesses a quantity of ammunition which may be used to discharge such a firearm.) Possession of any loaded rifle or shotgun in a vehicle is illegal.
It is unlawful for any person to carry, possess or transport a handgun in or through the state unless he has a valid New York license. (A provision of federal law provides a defense to state or local laws which would prohibit the passage of persons with firearms in interstate travel if the person is traveling from any place where he may lawfully possess and transport a firearm to any other place where he may lawfully possess and transport such firearm and the firearm is unloaded and in the trunk. In vehicles without a trunk, the unloaded firearm shall be in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console).
A member or coach of an accredited college or university target pistol team may transport a handgun into or through New York to participate in a collegiate, Olympic or target pistol shooting competition provided that the handgun is unloaded and carried in a locked carrying case and the ammunition is carried in a separate locked container.
Non-resident target shooters may enter or pass through New York State with handguns for the purposes of any NRA approved competition or IHMSA sanctioned match, within 48 hours of the competition, if the competitor has in his possession a copy of the match program, proof of entry and a pistol license from his state of residence. The handgun must be unloaded and transported in a locked opaque container. This provision does not apply in NY cities not wholly contained within a single county or to people with felony convictions.
Possession of firearms by a person who is a nonresident of this state is lawful while attending or traveling to or from an organized convention or exhibition approved by the NRA, and in which the nonresident is a registered participant within forty-eight hours of such event, provided that the nonresident has not been previously convicted of a felony and further provided that the firearms are transported unloaded in a locked opaque container together with a copy of the convention or exhibition program, convention or exhibition schedule or convention or exhibition registration card. This provision does not apply in NY cities not wholly contained within a single county.
A non-immigrant alien may possess a rifle or shotgun for use while hunting provided he has a valid hunting license issued by New York State and an approved gun import form from the BATFE.
The New York definition of a firearm does not include an antique firearm. An antique firearm 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 that uses fixed cartridges that are no longer available in the ordinary channels of commercial trade. A license is not required to possess, collect or carry an unloaded antique firearm.
However, a license is required to possess, collect and carry antique pistols. The licensing statute defines an antique pistol as: any single shot, muzzle loading pistol with a matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap, or similar type of ignition system manufactured in or before l898, which is not designed for using rim-fire or conventional center-fire fixed ammunition; and any replica if such replica is not designed or redesigned for using rim-fire or conventional center-fire fixed ammunition, or uses rim-fire or conventional center-fire fixed ammunition which is no longer manufactured in the United States and which is not readily available in the ordinary channels of commercial trade. To the extent that an “antique pistol” is not also an “antique firearm,” a license would be required for lawful possession.
NY Law has interpreted this to mean antique rifles, shotguns, handguns, and replicas thereof, are generally exempt from the above restrictions and can be bought and possessed without a permit. (Persons who shoot muzzleloading handguns must be properly licensed.) However, to fall within the exemption, antique handguns must be unloaded and possessed without the materials required for loading.
It is a felony for any person to manufacture, transport or dispose of a machine gun. It is a felony to buy, receive, dispose or conceal a machine gun that has been defaced for the purpose of concealment.
The presence in any room, dwelling, structure or vehicle of any machine gun is presumptive evidence of unlawful possession by all persons occupying the place where the machine gun is found.
A machine gun is defined as any weapon from which a number of shots or bullets may be rapidly or automatically discharged from a magazine with one continuous pull of the trigger and includes a submachine gun.
It shall be unlawful to possess any “assault weapon” or “large capacity ammunition feeding device.” So called assault weapons lawfully possessed prior to September 14, 1994 and large capacity ammunition feeding devices manufactured prior to such date can continue to be lawfully possessed..
“Assault weapon” is defined as:
A semiautomatic rifle that has an ability to accept a detachable magazine and has at least two of the following characteristics:
- a folding or telescoping stock
- a pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the actionof the weapon
- a bayonet mount
- a flash suppressor or threaded barrel designed to accommodate a flash suppressor
- a grenade launcher
- A semiautomatic shotgun that has at least two of the following characteristics
- a folding or telescoping stock
- a pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon
- a fixed magazine capacity in excess of five rounds
- an ability to accept a detachable magazine
- A semiautomatic pistol that has an ability to accept a detachable magazine and has at least two of the following characteristics
- an ammunition magazine that attaches to the pistol outside of the pistol grip
- a threaded barrel capable of accepting a barrel extender, flash suppressor, forward handgrip, or silencer
- shroud that is attached to, or partially or completely encircles, the barrel and that permits the shooter to hold the firearm with the nontrigger hand without being burned
- manufactured weight of fifty ounces or more when the pistol is unloaded
- A semiautomatic version of an automatic rifle, shotgun or firearm
- Any of the weapons, or functioning frames or receivers of such weapons, or copies or duplicates of such weapons, in any caliber, known as:
- Norinco, Mitchell, and Poly Technologies Avtomat Kalashnikovs (All Models)
- Action Arms Israeli Military Industries UZI and Galil
- Beretta Ar70 (SC-70)
- Colt AR-15
- Fabrique National FN/FAL, FN/LAR, and FNC
- SWD M-10, M-11, M-11/9, and M-12
- Steyr AUG
- INTRATEC TEC-9, TEC-DC9 and TEC-22
- revolving cylinder shotguns, such as (or similar to) the Street Sweeper and Striker
- Assault weapons does not include:
- any rifle, shotgun or pistol that: is manually operated by bolt, pump, lever or slide action; or has been rendered permanently inoperable
- An antique firearm as defined under federal law
- A semiautomatic rifle that cannot accept a detachable magazine that holds more than five rounds of ammunition
- A semiautomatic shotgun that cannot hold more than five rounds of ammunition in a fixed or detachable magazine
- A rifle, shotgun or pistol, or a replica or a duplicate thereof, specifically exempted from the federal assault weapon ban list as such weapon was manufactured on October 1, 1993
- “Large capacity ammunition feeding device” means a magazine, belt, drum, feed strip, or similar device, manufactured after September 13, 1994, that has a capacity of, or that can be readily restored or converted to accept, more than ten rounds of ammunition. There is an exception for an attached tubular device designed to accept, and capable of operating only with, .22 caliber rimfire ammunition.
Any person lawfully in possession of a firearm who suffers the loss or theft of said weapon shall report the facts and circumstances of the loss or theft to a police department or sheriff ’s office within twenty-four hours of the discovery of the loss or theft.
Illegal possession of a loaded firearm is a class C violent felony, punishable by a minimum mandatory term of three and a half years and a maximum of fifteen years.
It is unlawful to discharge a firearm so as the load passes over any part of a public highway. It is a crime to possess any rifle, shotgun or handgun in or upon a building or grounds, used for educational purposes, of any school, college or university. It is lawful, however, to possess a rifle, shotgun or handgun in or upon the forestry lands, wherever located, owned and maintained by the State University of New York College of environmental science and forestry, without the written authorization of such educational institution.
It is unlawful to discharge a firearm within five hundred feet from a dwelling house, farm building or farm structure actually occupied or used, school building, school playground, or occupied factory or church.
It is unlawful to willfully discharge any firearm either in a public place, or in any place where there is any person to be endangered thereby.
It is a crime to intentionally point or discharge any firearm toward another person (except in self-defense), even if no malice or injury is involved.
It is a crime to deface or alter the serial number or any other distinguishing number or identification mark on any handgun, rifle or shotgun, or to buy, receive, or dispose of a defaced firearm. Possession of any firearm that has been defaced creates a legal presumption that the possessor committed the offense.
The presence of a firearm in a vehicle is presumptive evidence of its possession by all persons occupying the vehicle except if:
- the firearm is found upon the person of one of the occupants
- if the firearm is found in a vehicle operated for hire by a duly licensed driver, then the presumption will not apply to the driver
- the firearm found is a handgun and one of the occupants has in his possession a valid license to have and carry concealed.
It is unlawful to possess a bullet containing an explosive substance designed to detonate upon impact or possess any armor piercing ammunition with intent to use unlawfully against another.
Note: Unless otherwise noted, the word firearm in this digest is used in its general sense, as any rifle, shotgun, or handgun. However, readers of the New York law should be aware that the term “firearm” when it appears in the text of the statutes, means only handguns and other firearms of a size which may be concealed upon the person.
CAUTION: Firearm laws are subject to frequent change and court interpretation. This summary is not intended as legal advice or restatement of law. This summary does not include federal or local laws, ordinances or regulations. For any particular situation, a licensed local attorney must be consulted for an accurate interpretation. YOU MUST ABIDE WITH ALL LAWS: STATE, FEDERAL AND LOCAL.