A Brief Summary of Gun Laws in New York

The United States Constitution guarantees American citizens the right to bear arms. With that being said, these rights are not absolute, and the states reserve the right to regulate the distribution, ownership, possession, and legal use of firearms. New York gun laws are known for being particularly strict, especially in New York City.

Are Permits Required to Own a Gun in New York?

Permits are required to legally purchase and own a firearm of any kind in New York City, with permits only being required for handguns outside of The Big Apple. Long guns such as rifles and shotguns may be purchased without a permit outside of the city unless they fall under the definition of an “assault weapon.” In 2013, New York State banned the sale and possession of assault weapons under the NY Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act (SAFE), including weapons equipped with or able to equip:

  • A folding or telescoping stock
  • A pistol grip
  • A thumbhole stock
  • A second handgrip
  • A bayonet mount
  • A flash suppressor or muzzle break
  • A grenade launcher

Who Can Carry a Gun?

New York counties and certain police departments issue various types of handgun licenses on a “may issue” basis, meaning that applicants who meet the requirements must still obtain the discretional approval of the issuing authority before being granted a license.

Any applicant for a license to carry a weapon outside of the home must be required to show, in addition to the requirements for possession, that “proper cause” exists for the issuance of a carry license.

Not all of these licenses allow unrestricted concealed carrying, though for those that do, pistol permit holders who wish to carry must do so in a concealed fashion. Open carry of a handgun is illegal in most instances unless hunting or on one’s own property.

Criminal Possession of a Weapon

If a person is found to be in possession of a weapon without the necessary licenses or a weapon that is unlawful itself, such as those prohibited under the SAFE Act, they may be charged with criminal possession of a weapon and face serious consequences.

While simple possession is classified as an A misdemeanor and can carry up to 1 year in jail, possessing three or more prohibited firearms or having a previous criminal history can boost these charges to a Class D violent felony and expose defendants to up to 7 years in prison.

Reasons a person can be charged with illegal possession include:

  • Possessing a firearm, dart gun, stun gun, switchblade, slingshot, or brass knuckles
  • Possessing a firearm on school grounds
  • Possessing a firearm as a non-U.S. citizen
  • Possessing armor piercing ammunition

If the defendant possessed 5 or more firearms, had the intent to use them unlawfully against another person, or the firearm was loaded, they can face a Class C violent felony charge and up to 15 years in prison. Lastly, those who possess 10 or more illegal firearms or an explosive device with the intent to use it against another person or their property can be charged with a Class B violent felony and face up to 25 years in prison upon conviction.

Charged with a Gun Crime? Call (888) 715-1735

Weapons crimes are a serious matter and are prosecuted with extreme tenacity. For this reason, if you have been accused of any sort of weapon violation, it is imperative you contact a powerful Queens criminal defense attorney from the Law Office of Kevin P. O’Donnell at once.

Having been guarding the rights of the accused for nearly 20 years, our team has the resources and knowledge you need to ensure that no stone is left unturned in your defense.

Your future is at stake – contact us online today to start building your defense.

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The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.


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Law Office of Kevin P. O’Donnell
Queens Criminal Defense Attorney

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