Purchasing a firearm in New York can be complicated and time-consuming. Unique to New York is the fact that there are two different sets of laws relating to guns in the state; one for New York City, and another for everyone else. In the guide below, we will try to make these differences clear. This guide is here to help you through the process. While we strive to make this guide as complete as possible, there certainly may be some questions we fail to answer. If that is the case, please feel free to use our contact form to suggest something we've missed.
There are two different types of gun permits that you can apply for as a resident of New York City, a premises permit and a carry permit. Unless you're famous, or have compromising pictures of a politician with an underage child, you're not getting a carry permit. For that reason we will focus mainly on the premises license that allows you to have a firearm in your home and to transport it (unloaded and in a locked container) to and from a firing range. You can find a copy of the handgun permit application here.
As you begin this process, it's important that you understand that this will be a time-consuming process. It can take more than 6 months to get your license and the subsequent purchase authorization to actually get your handgun. Note that New York City allows you to purchase one handgun every 90 days. If you're interested in buying a rifle or shotgun, that too is limited to one long gun every 90 days.
Once you've submitted all of the aforementioned paperwork, it's a waiting game. Once you receive your approval letter you have 30 days to pick up your permit. If your request for a permit is, you believe, unjustly denied, then it's time to contact a lawyer. You have four months from the date you were denied to appeal.
Along with your license will come your first purchase authorization. This is the document that actually allows you to buy a firearm. The purchase authorization form includes blanks for firearm manufacturer, model and caliber that you are required to fill out beforehand. Note that you are not committed to buying the particular handgun you list on this form. In the past, you were required to purchase a handgun of the same caliber you originally listed, but according to several gun shops, that is no longer the case. The purchase authorization allows you to buy one New York-compliant handgun within the next 30 calendar days.
For your first handgun purchase, we recommend you patronize a local gun shop for two reasons: These are among the most knowledgeable people on New York gun laws and can ensure that your first handgun works best for you; and, these businesses are on the front lines of protecting your right to exercise the 2nd Amendment. Make no mistake, nothing would please the likes of Michael Bloomberg, Andrew Cuomo, and Bill DiBlasio more than if every gun shop in New York were to go out of business.
Once you've purchased your new firearm, you have 72 hours (weekends and holidays count) to bring the gun (locked, unloaded, and don't have any ammunition on your person) down to 1 Police Plaza to have it inspected. Make sure you have your purchase authorization, bill of sale (two copies) and any other pertinent paperwork. The gun, make, model, caliber and serial #, will then be added to your gun license and handed to you. Make sure all of the information is accurate, especially the serial #. If there's a mistake, you can be sure the government isn't going to take responsibility. At this point, you can now purchase ammunition for the caliber listed on your license.
Now that you have your first gun, we encourage you to get additional training and continue to practice at one of the firing ranges in New York City.
Counties other than New York City tend to have much more reasonable standards when it comes to issuing permits to carry a concealed weapon. While it is much more onerous than so-called states with "constitutional carry" or "shall-issue," unlike attempting to get a carry license in New York City, it is not almost exclusively limited to the rich, famous, and powerful.
If you live in Nassau and most of western Suffolk County, you can apply through the police commissioner. Eastern Suffolk County residents apply to the Sheriff.
One major difference between getting a premises license and a carry license in these other counties is the requirement for character references from people not related to you by blood or marriage whom you have known for at least two years. Depending on the county, the number of these letters can vary from two to four. NewYorkCityGuns.com has a sample reference letter you can use here.
For information on applying for your carry or premises permit for New York's remaining counties, follow the links below.