Firearms Laws in New York City
New York has strict laws regarding the alleged possession, sale and use of firearms. The state prohibits the possession of a loaded handgun, short-barreled shotgun or rifle, or a loaded or unloaded assault weapon outside of the home or place of business without a license.
Many firearms charges in New York and New York City are punished by a mandatory minimum prison sentence. In addition to New York state gun charges, New York City has additional laws related to firearms that are punished by criminal penalties.
Most gun charges in New York are categorized as Criminal Possession of a Weapon, which applies other weapons as well. In addition, the New York State Penal Law contains firearms charges that specifically apply to firearms, such as Criminal Use of a Firearm and Criminal Sale of a Firearm.
The most commonly charged crime in New York City and New York State related to guns is Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree for a loaded firearm outside of one’s home or place of business.
Gun charges and laws differ throughout the country, however, New York is in the top 5 of states with the most restrictive firearms laws in the country. Some states allow citizens to carry firearms openly and others allow citizens to carry concealed firearms without a permit.
More than a dozen states allow individuals to carry concealed guns for lawful purposes without a permit, so-called constitutional carry states. That includes three states in the northeast—Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont—and other states such as Arizona, Mississippi and Missouri and Oklahoma. More than a dozen other states allow open carry of firearms with a permit, such as Iowa, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas.
New York State requires a firearms license to carry a firearm that is issued through New York City and each of the remaining 57 counties. The 3 types of New York firearms licenses are: carry concealed, possess on premises and possess/carry during employment. The general requirements to obtain a firearms license are: to be a New York State resident, at least 21 years old, no prior felony or serious offense convictions and be of good moral character.
Specific Gun Crimes in NYC
- Criminal Possession of a Gun
- Criminal Use of a Gun
- Criminal Sale of a Gun
- Criminal Possession of Firearm Parts
Operability of Firearms in New York City
Firearms charges in New York contain an important element that is not mentioned in the law: the requirement that the firearm is operable. The same rule of operability applies to handguns, rifles and shotguns. In New York law, operability means “capable of discharging ammunition.” However, prosecutors are not required to prove that a person charged with firearms possession knows that a firearm is operable.
In determining operability with firearms charges, a police laboratory will attempt to fire a firearm usually in a large container of water. Contrary to popular culture, bullets do not travel fast or far underwater. In attempting to determine operability the police laboratory will produce a report that states that a firearm is either operable or not operable.
The firearms examination laboratory report typically has a results section that states the type of ammunition that was used and the force needed for the trigger pull. At trial, the laboratory analyst who performed the operability test must testify to prove the element of operability.
New York Possession of a Gun with A Felony Conviction
A person becomes ineligible to possess a firearm license in New York upon a felony conviction under Penal Law Section 400.00(1)(c). That includes handguns, rifles and shotguns. There are two ways to regain the right to possess a firearm in New York to avoid firearms charges. First, obtaining a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities. Second, sealing a criminal conviction.
A person is eligible to receive a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities (CRD) is he or she has not been convinced of more than 1 felony (multiple felony convictions related to the same criminal case count as only 1 conviction). A person can apply for a CRD during sentencing by simply asking the Judge. If the application for the CRD did not occur at sentencing and was not sentenced to prison, a person applies to the same Court where they were sentenced. If the application for the CRD did not occur at sentencing and a person was sentenced to prison a person applies to the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.
Sealing a criminal conviction in New York applies to convictions after 10 years and certain felony convictions are not eligible for sealing, such as sex offenses and many violent felony offenses.
Sentencing in New York Gun Cases
A firearms charge in New York does not automatically mean that a felony conviction will result. There are several factors to take into account to determine the possible outcomes of a firearms charge, including:
- The strength or weakness of the prosecution’s case;
- The background of and any criminal history of the accused: and
- The facts of the search that allegedly recovered the firearm
In New York, firearms charges fall into several categories such as Criminal Possession of a Firearm, Criminal Use of a Firearm, Criminal Sale of a Firearm and Criminal Possession of Firearm Parts, such as a Bump Stock or an Ammunition Feeding Device.
NYC-specific Firearms Laws
New York’s firearms laws are strict, but New York City firearms laws are even stricter. First, New York City, like each of the 57 other counties issues firearms licenses. Firearms are highly regulated in New York City.
There are two particular areas of firearms regulation specific to New York City where failure to comply results in criminal penalties. First, possession of ammunition. Second, a registry of people who are convicted of certain firearms charges in New York.
Criminal Possession of Ammunition in New York City
In addition to New York’s restrictive firearms laws, New York City has additional laws relating to firearms ammunition. New York City has two laws that relate to possession of ammunition. However, outside of New York City, it is legal to possess ammunition with two exceptions: explosive rounds and armor-piercing rounds are both illegal.
Under New York City Administrative Code Section 10-131(i)(3) it is illegal for a person to possess any ammunition unless the person has a license for a firearm in New York City. The law states, “It shall be unlawful for any person not authorized to possess a pistol or revolver within the city of New York to possess pistol or revolver ammunition, provided that a dealer in rifles and shotguns may possess such ammunition.”
Under New York City Administrative Code Section 10-131(i)(4) if a person has a New York City firearm license, then it is illegal for a person to possess ammunition of a different caliber than the caliber of the licensed firearm or firearms. The law states, “It shall be unlawful for any person authorized to possess a pistol or revolver of a particular caliber within the city of New York to possess pistol or revolver ammunition of a different caliber.”
Sentencing for New York City Criminal Possession of Ammunition
Both provisions New York City ammunition laws are classified as a class A misdemeanor, up to 1 year in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both. In New York, a class A misdemeanor is punished by up to 1 year in jail. However, a knowledgeable and aggressive defense lawyer can often obtain a non-criminal plea bargain or even the dismissal of the criminal case.
The most common outcomes New York City Criminal Possession of Ammunition cases are either an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal (ACD) or a plea to Disorderly Conduct. When an ACD is offered an accepted, if the person who is charged stays out of trouble for 6 months, then the case is dismissed and sealed without having to appear on the next court date. A plea to Disorderly Conduct does not result in a criminal record because it is classified as a violation and not a crime like misdemeanors and felonies.
New York City Firearms Laws and the Gun Offender Registry Act (GORA)
New York City’s Gun Offender Registry Act (GORA) requires New York City residents who have been convicted of certain felony firearms-related offenses to register with the New York City Police Department (NYPD) for 4 years after release from prison, or from the date of sentencing if no prison sentence is imposed.
GORA applies to:
- Firearm or ammunition-related provisions of Penal Law Section 256.02(5) to (8)
- Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree;
- Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Third Degree for having a firearm outside of one’s home or place of business
GORA imposes a series of reporting requirements with the Gun Offender Monitoring Unit (GOMU) of the New York Police Department.It is important to note that even if a person has engaged in no other criminal activity, failure to comply with GORA is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail.
Hiring a New York City Firearms Attorney
The criminal justice system is complex and can be intimidating and confusing, particularly in New York City. Hiring the right NYC firearms defense attorney is crucial in achieving the best possible outcome when one is charged with a Weapons crime in New York.
The best New York City Weapons lawyer is experienced, aggressive and knowledgeable. As a former prosecutor in Manhattan, I have the experience and knowledge from both prosecuting firearms charges, and aggressively defending people against gun charges in New York.
Speak With a NYC Gun Lawyer Today
If you or a loved one is charged with a gun crime in New York City, we’re here to help.
Contact The Law Firm of Andrew M. Stengel
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