New York's new gun law: Answers to some questions (2023)

Gun Control NY_2.JPG

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs New York's new gun-control legislation into law during a ceremony at the Capitol on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013, in Albany, N.Y. Also pictured from left are Senate co-leader Jeffrey Klein, D-Bronx, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, and Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers. Behind Cuomo is Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy.

((AP Photo/Mike Groll))

Syracuse, N.Y. -- The NY Safe Act of 2013 is 39 pages long and includes wide-ranging changes to New York state laws, from mental health and family courts to criminal procedure and business laws.

I’ve done my best to answer some questions about the changes, based on information from state legislative staff, mental health experts and others. Please let me know what other questions you have, either through email or in the comment section below. I’ll try to get you the answer as quickly as possible.

What guns are banned in New York? The NY Safe Act of 2013 bans semi-automatic rifles, shotguns and pistols purchased after Jan. 15, 2013 that have one prohibited feature – such as a pistol grip, a folding stock or a flash suppressor. This is the state's new definition of an assault weapon. The ban does not cover pistol grip shotguns.

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What about semi-automatic guns bought before Jan. 15? Those weapons must be registered with the New York State Police by April 15, 2014. After that, those who don't meet the deadline could face a misdemeanor charge for failing to register. Those who knowingly possess an unregistered gun could face a felony charge. The registry is supposed to be up and running in the next 90 days.

Is it simply a registration or is it a background check? The registration will trigger a background check through New York's National Instant Criminal Background Check system.

I have a semi-automatic rifle with two "assault weapon" characteristics, the allowable amount until Tuesday. Do I have to modify the gun so it only has one "assault weapon" feature? No. But I have to register it? Yes.

What if I want to sell the gun instead of participating in the registry? You have a year to sell your semi-automatic to an out-of-state dealer. After a year, you can only transfer it to spouse, domestic partner or a child.

Are antique semi-automatic guns banned? Not necessarily. Exemptions exist for relics and curio weapons that may meet the new definition of an assault weapon.

What about magazines? You have a year to get rid of any magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds (typically the 30-round magazines grandfathered in under the 1994 state law that previously defined assault weapons and gun restrictions). Under the new law, you can still use 10-round magazines, though legally you can only load a maximum of seven bullets at a time.

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Am I supposed to throw away the magazines that hold more than 10 rounds? You can sell them to an out-of-state dealer during the next year or disable them.

Do I have to get a permit for a semi-automatic long gun? No.

What about pistol permits? Under the new law, handgun owners must have a pistol permit and recertify the information in the permit to the New York State Police every five years. The information includes address, date of birth, firearm descriptions and other personal information. Local officials will still hold the authority to decide who gets a pistol permit.

And that information is now private? Yes, if you indicate you would like to keep your pistol permit information private.

Are there required background checks now for ammunition sales? Yes, through New York's NICS.

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What about Internet sales? All online sales must go through a dealer with a federal firearms license, who also is required to do a background check on ammo sales.

So to sell ammunition in New York, I now have to get a federal firearms license? No – but you must register with the state and keep electronic records available for state police to review. Records must be destroyed a year from date of sale.

Can I sell a gun at a garage sale or another type of private sale? Yes, so long as the buyer passes a background check before the transaction takes place. The buyer is now required to get NICS clearance for gun transactions. The seller must keep the paperwork and can charge $10 to the buyer for the task. Failure to obtain the background check is a misdemeanor. The background check for private sales does not apply to transfers among spouses, domestic partners and children.

I heard there are more safe storage requirements. Yes. You must secure guns in your home if you live with a convicted felon, someone with mental health issue or someone under an order of protection. Failure to do so is a misdemeanor.

What about gun ownership restrictions for mental health patients? The new law expands Kendra's Law, a policy that allows a judge to order treatment for people who typically have very severe mental health problems, such as schizophrenia.

What are the changes in Kendra's Law? The changes expand the court-ordered treatment plan from six months to a year. The law now requires an evaluation of state prisoners who exhibit behavioral problems at the end of their imprisonment to see if they meet the criteria for Kendra's Law. And the law extends the original sunset in Kendra's Law from June 30, 2015 to June 30, 2017.

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Will the law stop severely mentally ill people from having guns or ammunition? The law requires mental health providers to report patients who pose a serious risk to self or others to local county mental health officials. The county then can report the concerns to the state's Division of Criminal Justice Services. DCJS then has the authority to suspend any pistol permit and can require the person to surrender all firearms to law enforcement.

Does the law stop mentally ill people from buying guns? That is the intent. The different facets of the law allow DCJS and the Office of Mental Health to "disqualify" mentally ill people from having a pistol permit or possessing firearms. The state also intends to add a disqualifying notification, without including detailed health information, into the background check database to stop gun sales. Disqualified people can petition the commissioner of mental health for a reversal of the designation.

Will anything in the new law limit police officers' capacities? No, though that exact language was left out of the original bill. The governor and lawmakers have agreed to codify it in the final law.

What about people who use guns illegally? There are a host of harsher penalties for those who break the laws when it comes to illegal gun buys, using guns in a crime, brandishing a gun on school grounds, or shooting a child or first responder. Here's a summary:

*Makes killing a first responder responding to an emergency a first-degree murder charge.
*Creates a mandatory five-year minimum prison sentence for anyone who uses a loaded firearm during a drug sale or violent felony.
*Creates a mandatory three-and-a-half year minimum prison sentence for using an unloaded gun during any drug sale or violent felony.
*Increases penalties for "straw purchasers," people who can easily pass a background check who buy guns for others. The crime goes from a misdemeanor to a Class D felony.
*Makes it a felony to possess a gun on school grounds or a school bus.
*Ups punishment for people, often gang members, who use community or shared guns to commit crimes.

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Contact Teri Weaver at:, 315-470-2274 or on Twitter at @TeriKWeaver.

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How many rounds can you legally carry in NY? ›

The NY SAFE Act prohibits possession of a magazine that has the capacity to hold more than ten (10) rounds of ammunition regardless of when it was manufactured or when it was obtained. It also prohibits possession of a magazine if it is loaded with more than seven (7) rounds of ammunition, unless you are at a range.

Is New York strict on guns? ›

The state and the city both maintain strict gun policies. For example, you are not allowed to openly carry a gun anywhere in the state. The state and the city also both prohibit the purchase of assault rifles, even though federal laws against such purchases have expired.

What is the penalty for carrying a gun without a permit in New York? ›

Carrying a concealed weapon without a permit is a class A misdemeanor in New York. Penalties include up to 1 year in jail, three years probation, and a fine of up to $1,000.

What are the current gun laws in New York? ›

New York State Laws — Handguns

Residents need permits both to purchase and possess handguns. Residents must be at least 21 years old to apply for a permit to possess a handgun, unless they were honorably discharged from the military, in which case they may apply if they are 18 years old or older.

Can I open carry on my property in New York? ›

Open carry is not addressed in New York state law, although a New York Pistol License (NYPL) is required to possess a loaded handgun outside of the home or place of business. Concealed carry is only legal with a NYPL.

Can I carry a unloaded shotgun in my car in New York State? ›

In vehicles without a trunk, the unloaded firearm shall be in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console.

Can I own a pistol in NY without a permit? ›

Subject to limited exceptions, possession of a handgun or rifle/shotgun in New York City requires a license (for handguns) or a permit (for rifles/shotguns) issued by the NYPD License Division.

Is it hard to get a pistol permit in New York? ›

"New York City is one of the most restrictive CCW jurisdictions in the country, and it is very hard to get. On average it takes between six and nine months. It's recommended that one use an attorney who is experienced in the process," Nino Bosaz, the New York-based editorial director of Athlon Outdoors, told Fox News.

Has the Supreme Court ruled on gun control? ›

The ruling, a 6–3 ruling with conservative justices in the majority, was not unexpected, but now states with similar laws—as well as other laws that may conflict with this Court's broader interpretation of Second Amendment rights—are racing to protect both gun rights and public safety.

Can you open carry a long gun in NY? ›

New York requires a license to carry a concealed firearm. Open Carried Allowed? Open carry of handguns is not permitted, but New York has no law restricting the open carrying of long guns in public.

Is it legal to carry a pistol in New York state? ›

While no law specifically bans open carry, a pistol license to carry is issued to carry concealed. Concealed carry is only legal with a New York Pistol License (NYPL). The minimum age is 21, with the exception of honorably discharged members of the military, who can be any age.

Can you carry a gun in your car in New York state? ›

Can You Have a Gun in Your Car in New York? Yes, it is legal to possess a loaded firearm in your vehicle with a New York Pistol License (NYPL) only. A New York City Pistol License is required in NYC. It is legal to transport a legal firearm through New York under federal interstate transportation law 18 USC § 926A.

What is the penalty for high capacity magazine in NY? ›

Because unlawful possession of a large capacity ammunition feeding device is a class A misdemeanor if convicted you could be sentenced to up to 1 year in jail. It is also possible that that the judge will opt to not send you to jail at all and sentence you to probation term of 3 years.


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