What Are New York’s Gun Laws?

In the wake of the tragic shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut that has horrified the county, gun laws and gun control are hot topics of conversation. Following that tragedy, two firefighters in New York were killed and two were wounded in a Rochester shooting by an armed man who committed suicide after the shooting. The recent publication by the Journal News in White Plains of a list of local gun-permit holders has added fuel to the fire.

Many people have expressed that the shooting might have been prevented had firearms been more difficult to obtain. Since the shooting, many politicians have been using the opportunity to express their views on gun control and our current gun laws. So what are the gun laws in New York?

In New York State, in order to own a handgun, you must get a permit to purchase it, you must register it, the owner must be licensed, and in order to carry it you must have a permit. In New York City, however, a license to carry is not effective unless the police commissioner issues a special permit. None of those requirements applies to rifles and shotguns, except in New York City. Non-residents are not allowed to carry, possess or transport a handgun in or through New York unless they have a valid New York license. In New York, it’s illegal to possess a gun that’s classified as an “assault weapon”.

Although New York already has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, in the wake of the shooting, Governor Cuomo is calling for even stricter gun laws. He has reportedly been meeting with lawmakers to expand New York’s assault weapon ban, and is also pushing for a ban on gun magazines that can hold more than seven bullets at a time. There are also rumors floating around that he will seek tougher gun registration requirements and a semi-automatic weapon buyback program.

It’s uncertain what new gun laws 2013 will bring. Unfortunately, many New Yorkers who have no intention of committing a crime with a gun have been charged with gun crimes in the past because they weren’t aware of the gun laws, or because they made a mistake.