New York Safe Act


New York gun laws

CAUTION: Firearms laws are subject to frequent change, and furthermore, are subject to court interpretation. Therefore this information is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of the law. To determine the applicability of these laws to specific situations which you may encounter, you must consult a local attorney. In addition to state laws, the purchase, sale, possession, use and transportation of firearms is also regulated by federal and, furthermore, by local laws. This information does not include or address federal and local laws.

QUICK REFERENCE CHART 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


No permit is required for the purchase of a rifle or shotgun (except in New York City). 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.

On and after March 1, 2001, any manufacturer that ships, transports or delivers a handgun to a person or licensed handgun dealer in New York shall include in the container with such handgun a separate sealed container that encloses: (a) a shell casing of a bullet or projectile discharged from such handgun; and (b) any additional information that identifies such handgun and shell casing as required by New York state police rules and regulations. A gunsmith or dealer in handguns licensed in New York shall, within ten days of the receipt of any handgun from a manufacturer that fails to comply with the provisions of this requirement shall either (a) return such handgun to such manufacturer, or (b) notify the New York state police of such noncompliance and thereafter obtain a substitute sealed container through participation in a program operated by the state police. On and after March 1, 2001, a gunsmith or dealer in handguns licensed in New York shall, within ten days of delivering to any person a pistol or revolver received by such gunsmith or dealer in handguns on or after such date, forward to the division of state police, along with the original transaction report, the sealed container enclosing the shell casing from such handgun either (a) received from the manufacturer, or (b) obtained through participation in the program operated by the division of state police. These provisions only apply to new handguns received from a manufacturer on or after March 1, 2001. They shall not apply to any handgun possessed by a dealer prior to that date nor to any handgun possessed prior to that date by any person with a New York pistol license, and shall not apply to any handgun received by a dealer specifically for delivery or sale outside New York. Upon receipt of the sealed container, the division of state police shall cause to be entered in an automated electronic databank 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. A licensee who moves his residence to another licensing jurisdiction within the state may, upon request, have his license records transferred to the jurisdiction of his new residence. Failure to request transfer of the license records may result in an inability to obtain amendments, and possible revocation of the license. To obtain the amendment, the applicant must present his license to the licensing officer in the city or county where such license was issued or where officially transferred.


Rifles and Shotguns: There is no state licensing requirement for the possession of a rifle or shotgun, although any person convicted of a felony or other serious offense and any person who "has been certified not suitable to possess a rifle or shotgun" (mentally incompetent) is prohibited from possession. A person who has been convicted of a felony or other serious offense may obtain a certificate of good conduct which will then permit him to possess rifles and shotguns. 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 the ages of 12 and 16 who is engaged in supervised target shooting on a range. A minor at least 14 years of age may hunt with any rifle or shotgun, provided he has a valid hunting license and is accompanied by his parent, guardian or other parentally-designated adult who also holds a valid hunting license.

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 store keeper is located. (The licensing officer in New York City and Nassau County is the Police Commissioner; in Suffolk County, the Police Commissioner or Sheriff; elsewhere in the state, a county judge or some other designated judge or justice.)

The determination whether to grant the license has been held to be completely within the discretion of the licensing officer. However, the licensing officer must state "specifically and concisely" in writing the reasons for such denial. A denial can be overturned in court only if shown to be "arbitrary and capricious." In Westchester County the applicant must have successfully completed a firearms safety course and test. A license may be granted to an applicant who is of good moral character, over the age of 21 years, has not been convicted of a "serious offense," (This includes misdemeanors and violations as set forth in Section 265.00, Subd. 17, PL.) states if and when he has ever been treated for mental illness and as 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 20 may possess and use 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 or at a target pistol shooting competition under the auspices of or approved by the NRA and while under the immediate supervision, guidance and instruction of a certified instruction and while possessing or using the instructor's licensed handgun.

A license may be granted to an applicant who is of good moral character, has not been convicted of a "serious offense," (This includes misdemeanors and violations as set forth in Section 265.00, Subd. 17, PL.) states if and when he has ever been treated for mental illness and as to whom "no good cause exists for the denial of the license." An investigation will be conducted of 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 their 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, although "need" may be required 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.

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 only for "good cause." The statute provides that the failure of the FBI to process fingerprints is not a good cause for delay.

If issued, the license is valid until revoked, except in New York City, where the license shall expire not more 3 years after the date of issuance, and in Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties where the license shall expire not more than 5 years after the date of issuance. In Westchester County a license shall be recertified every 5 years prior to April 1. Certification means that the licensing officer shall be provided with the licensee's current name and address, date of birth, and the make, model, caliber, and serial number of all handguns currently possessed. The 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, which is currently $74.00. 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 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 at a target range. Personal information submitted by the applicant to obtain the license becomes a matter of public record.

Several counties have information available online:


A license to possess a handgun serves also as a license to carry unless restricted. If there are no restrictions written on the license, the licensee is permitted to carry a handgun, loaded or unloaded, concealed, on or about his person. An applicant for a license to carry must be required to show, in addition to the requirement for possession, that "proper cause exists" for the issuance of such a license; for example, for 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. Possession of any "loaded" rifle or shotgun in a vehicle is illegal. A loaded handgun may be carried in a vehicle by a properly licensed individual. ("Loaded" means loaded in magazine or chamber. A loaded handgun means one for which the person possesses ammunition.)


A non-resident citizen may possess a rifle or shotgun in New York, as long as it is unloaded while being transported. No person may carry, possess or transport a handgun in or through the state unless he has a valid New York license. New York does not issue licenses to non-residents nor does it recognize licenses issued by other states. (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 a 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. Necessary stops, e.g., gasoline and rest, seem permissible.) 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. An alien may possess a rifle or shotgun for use while hunting provided he has a valid New York hunting license. "If such (handgun) license is issued to an alien, or to a person not a citizen of and usually a resident in the state, the licensing officer shall state in the license the particular reason for the issuance and the names of the persons certifying to the good character of the applicant." Non-resident target shooters may enter or pass through New York State with handguns for the purposes of any NRA approved 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.

Antiques and Replicas:

Antique rifles, shotguns and handguns, and replicas thereof, generally are exempt from the above restrictions and can be bought and possessed without a permit. (Persons who shoot muzzle loading handguns must be properly licensed.) Antique handguns must be unloaded and possessed without the materials to load same.

National Firearms Act Firearms:

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 which 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 a "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 are grandfathered. A license shall not be issued for a handgun defined as an "assault weapon." Any person lawfully in possession of a firearm, rifle or shotgun who suffers the loss or theft of said weapon shall within twenty-four hours of the discovery of the loss or theft report the facts and circumstances of the loss or theft to a police department or sheriff's office. It is a crime to possess any rifle, shotgun or handgun in or upon the building or grounds of any school, college or university in the state without the written permission of the institution. It is a crime to possess a fake or imitation handgun with intent to use it unlawfully. It is a crime to intentionally point any firearm toward another person (except in self defense), even if no malice is involved. It is a crime to deface or alter the serial number or any other distinguishing number or identification mark on any handgun. Possession of any handgun 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; the firearm is found in a vehicle operated for hire by a duly licensed driver, then the presumption will not apply to the driver, or the firearm found is a handgun and one of the occupants has in his possession a valid license to have and carry concealed. Note: In this digest, the word "firearm" is used in its general sense, i.e., 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, has a special meaning, being applied only to handguns and other firearms "of a size which may be concealed upon the person."

An "assault weapon" means (a) a semiautomatic rifle that has an ability to accept a detachable magazine and has at least two of the following characteristics: (i) a folding or telescoping stock; (ii) a pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon; (iii) a bayonet mount; (iv) a flash suppressor or threaded barrel designed to accommodate a flash suppressor; (v) a grenade launcher; or (b) a semiautomatic shotgun that has at least two of the following characteristics: (i) a folding or telescoping stock; (ii) a pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon; (iii) a fixed magazine capacity in excess of five rounds; (iv) an ability to accept a detachable magazine; or (c) a semiautomatic pistol that has an ability to accept a detachable magazine and has at least two of the following characteristics: (i) an ammunition magazine that attaches to the pistol outside of the pistol grip; (ii) a threaded barrel capable of accepting a barrel extender, flash suppressor, forward handgrip, or silencer; (iii) a shroud that is attached to, or partially or completely encircles, the barrel and that permits the shooter to hold the firearm with the non-trigger hand without being burned; (iv) a manufactured weight of fifty ounces or more when the pistol is unloaded; (v) a semiautomatic version of an automatic rifle, shotgun or firearm; or (d) any of the weapons, or functioning frames or receivers of such weapons, or copies or duplicates of such weapons, in any caliber, known as (i) Norinco, Mitchell, and Poly Technologies Avtomat Kalashnikovs (All Models); (ii) Action Arms Israeli Military Industries UZI and Galil; (iii) Beretta Ar70 (Sc-70); (iv) Colt Ar-15;(v) Fabrique National FN/FAL, FN/LAR, and FNC; (vi) SWD M 10, M-11, M-11/9, and M-12; (vii) Steyr Aug; (viii) Intratec TEC-9, TEC-DC9 and TEC-22; and (ix) Revolving Cylinder Shotguns, such as (or Similar to) the Streetsweeper and Striker 12; (e) provided, however, that such term does not include: (i) any rifle, shotgun or pistol that (a) is manually operated by bolt, pump, lever or slide-action; (b) has been rendered permanently inoperable; or (c) is an antique firearm as defined in 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(16); (ii) a semiautomatic rifle that cannot accept a detachable magazine that holds more than five rounds of ammunition; (iii) a semiautomatic shotgun that cannot hold more than five rounds of ammunition in a fixed or detachable magazine; (iv) a rifle, shotgun or pistol, or a replica or a duplicate thereof, specified in appendix A to section 922 of 18 U.S.C. as such weapon was manufactured on October 1, 1993. The mere fact that a weapon is not listed in appendix A shall not be construed to mean that such weapon is an assault weapon; or (v) a semiautomatic rifle, a semiautomatic shotgun or a semiautomatic pistol or any of the weapons defined in paragraph (d) of this subdivision lawfully possessed prior to September 14, 1994.

"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; provided, however, that such term does not include an attached tubular device designed to accept, and capable of operating only with, .22 caliber rimfire ammunition.

For City of Albany: Please look in the file library for more information on Chapter 193 relating to "assault weapons", carrying and discharging firearms within city limits.

For City of Buffalo: Please look in the file library for more information on Chapter 180 relating to "assault weapons", storage, carrying and discharging firearms within city limits.

For City of New York: Title 38 of the Rules of the City of New York, § 17-01. Assault Weapons Designated. (a) Pursuant to Subparagraph 7 of Paragraph a of Subdivision 16 of § 10-301 of the New York City Administrative Code, the following makes and models of weapons are determined to be particularly suitable for military and not sporting purposes and are determined to be within the statutory definition of assault weapon as set forth in § 10‑301(16) of the New York City Administrative Code: (1) Models Calico M-900 carbine, Calico M-100 carbine manufactured by American Industries, (2) Models Lightning 25-22, AP-74 manufactured by AMT, (3) Model AR-180 manufactured by Armalite, (4) Model .223 SAC manufactured by Austrian Automatic Arms, (5) Models M-1-SA, 1927-A1-SA manufactured by Auto Ordinance, (6) Model Light 50 82-AL manufactured by Barrett Firearms, (7) Models AR70, BM 59 manufactured by Beretta, (8) Model Assault Rifle manufactured by Bushmaster Firearms, (9) Model SR-88 manufactured by Charter Firearms Industries, (10) Models AR-15 manufactured by Colt, (11) Models MAX-1, MAX-2, K1A1, K2, USAS-12 shotgun manufactured by Daewoo Industries, (12) Models C90, C100, C450 manufactured by DMAX Industries, (13) Model MK-IV carbine manufactured by ENCOM, (14) Models FN-FAL, FN-LAR, FN-FNC manufactured by Fabrique Nationale, (15) Model MAS 223 manufactured by FAMAS, (16) Models AT-9 carbine, AT-22 carbine manufactured by Feather Industries, (17) Models XC-450 AUTO OCARBINE, XC-220, XC-900 manufactured by Federal Engineering Corporation, (18) Models SPAS-12, LAW-12 pump auto shotguns manufactured by Franchi, (19) Model GC HIGH TECH carbine manufactured by Goncz Company, (20) Models HK-91, HK-93, HK-94, PSG-1, G3-SA manufactured by Heckler & Koch, (21) Models UZI-carbine, MINI-UZI carbine, GALIL-ARM, GALIL-AR, GALIL-SAR, GALIL-SNIPER manufactured by Israeli Military Industries, (22) Model PM-30 PARATROOPER manufactured by Iver Johnson, (23) Models AP-74, AP-84, AP-80, AP-85, SPECTRE AUTO carbine manufactured by Mitchell Arms, (24) Models of the Kalashnikov-type semiautomatic, including those manufactured by Norinco (China) and Hungarian Arms, (25) Models NDM-86 SNIPER RIFLE manufactured by Norinco, (26) Model M-14S manufactured by Polytech Industries, (27) Model MINI-14/5F manufactured by Ruger, (28) Models 57-AMT, PE-57, SG550SP, SG551SP manufactured by SIGArms, (29) Model L1A1A manufactured by Small Arms Factory, Australia, (30) Models BM-59, SAR-48, SAR-58, SAR-3, M-1A manufactured by Springfield Armory, (31) Model MK-6 manufactured by Sterling, (32) Model AUG-SA manufactured by Steyer Daimler-Pusch, (33) Models M-76-SA, M-78-SA manufactured by Valmet Corporation, and (34) Model NIGHTHAWK manufactured by Weaver Arms Corporation. Please look in the file library for more information on NYC gun laws.

For City of Rochester: Effective April 1, 1993, the City of Rochester enacted a gun control ordinance. Four specific categories of firearms are banned: (1) specific assault-type weapons and stockless pistol grip shotguns; (2) any centerfire semi-automatic rifle or shotgun which holds more than six cartridges in the ammunition feeding device and chamber combined; (3) any ammunition feeding device capable of being attached to a pistol which holds in excess of seventeen cartridges; and (4) "look-alike" imitation hand guns which can be used in the commission of crimes. Antique reproductions are exempt. The ban is on possession, not ownership; the weapons may either be disabled and kept within the City, or stored outside the City. Pistol license holders may carry their handguns, except those that are specifically banned, in the City of Rochester except in government buildings, on school property, in public parks, or in other public facilities, in which all guns are banned. Long guns may not be carried in public places unless they are unloaded and locked in a vehicle, locked in a carrying case, or equipped with a trigger lock. All firearms must be stored in locked places or equipped with a trigger lock. This requirement does not apply to those instances when the gun is in "close proximity" to the owner and only applies to residences, not to businesses. The law bans selling, trading, or leasing firearms in Rochester, except through licensed dealers, or persons surrendering firearms under the terms of State law. The ban also does not apply to gifts or sales among family members, including bequests made pursuant to a will. Please look in the file library for more information on Chapter 47 relating to to "assault weapons", storage, carrying and discharging firearms within Rochester city limits.

For City of Yonkers: Please look in the file library for more information on Chapter 74 relating to specific ordinances on air guns, replicas and discharging firearms within city limits.

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