New York State Law on the Right to Bear Arms

Posted on 
May 16, 2024
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The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which protects the right of citizens to bear arms, has faced numerous challenges throughout the years. In New York, local authorities have had to modify their laws to address public safety and maintain law and order in their communities. State law provides for:

  • comprehensive background checks,
  • firearm safety and live-fire training for individuals seeking to obtain concealed carry permits,
  • the prohibition of firearms into sensitive locations, such as schools, government buildings and hospitals, and 
  • renewal or recertification of permits every three years.

Beginning September 13, 2023, background checks are also required for purchasers of ammunition and certain antique firearms in New York.

Can You Own a Gun in New York?

Under the law, residents are allowed to own handguns and semi-automatic rifles, but must apply for, and obtain a permit – a process that requires a background check. The two most common licenses for a handgun are a license to “have and possess” and a license to “have and carry concealed.”   

  • A “have and possess” (or “premises license”) authorizes the license holder to have a handgun at a certain location, such as their home or place of business.
  • A “have and carry concealed” (or “concealed carry license)” authorizes the license holder to carry a handgun on their person.

As recently as September 2022, New York passed legislation requiring all concealed carry permit applicants to take a firearms safety training course that includes a 16-hour classroom component and two-hour, live-fire firearm safety training. 

New York law also prohibits anyone from transporting or possessing any large capacity weapon (handgun or rifle) that can hold more than ten rounds of ammunition. (This applies to New Jersey as well.)

New York City has its own rules for purchasing and carrying firearms. To own a handgun, you need a valid city handgun license and to own a rifle or shotgun, you need a city-issued permit. Residents of New York City and Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties are also required to renew their permits and must also take firearm safety training. 

Can You Use a Gun on Your Own Property?

The answer to this question depends on where you live in the state. In New York City, it’s not legal to fire off a gun in your yard or on your own private property. In other parts of New York, however, it's perfectly legal as long as it's done far away from other buildings, roads, and public areas. Typically, if a firearm is used on an owner's property, it might get called into police as “gunshots fired.” Or, perhaps they might hear shots while on routine patrol. In either case, they would investigate it.

Traveling with a Gun

It is illegal to transport any type of gun in a car if the gun is loaded unless you have a valid New York concealed carry license. Anyone without a valid New York concealed carry license cannot transport a handgun, whether it’s loaded or unloaded. 

There is a limited exception for people who are only passing through the state to and from somewhere else where they can legally possess and transport a handgun. But even under this exception, the handgun must be stored unloaded in the trunk of the vehicle. In vehicles without a trunk, it needs to be unloaded and stored in a locked container (not just in the glove compartment or console). Another exception allows those with a standard handgun permit to store it in a locked box, separate from the ammunition, if traveling to and from a gun range.

It’s important to abide by the law when traveling with a gun in New York. If an illegal gun is found in a vehicle, all occupants can be considered “in possession” of it and may be charged with a crime. It does not matter who owns the vehicle, or who owns the gun.

Use Common Sense

New York State has strict gun laws so it’s not difficult to imagine a scenario where a person using a firearm or traveling with one illegally is charged with a serious crime – even if they had no intention of doing anything harmful or against the law. Criminals who possess and use an unlicensed firearm (without permits) face even more severe penalties from judges than valid permit owners. Gun crime convictions are punishable by years in prison so my advice is don’t take any unnecessary risks when it comes to owning, using, or transporting a gun of any type.

Author Bio

Kent Ng

NYPD (Ret.) Of Rosenblum Law

Kent Ng was sworn in as a police officer in the early 90's and during his patrolman duties has responded and dealt with many vehicular accidents.

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