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November 30, 2011
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    To get a license for a handgun in New York State you must meet local County, NY State and Federal regulations. These requirements can be meet by the average law abiding citizen who does not have any legal problems or other bars to owning a gun, is willing to wait, is willing to fill in the paperwork and is willing to spend a small amount of money to get a license.

    You will have to deal with rules and regulation on three levels, your local county, NY State and Federal. Most of the rules on the local level are based on, or are a requirement in State or Federal law but some counties do have additional special requirements that should be easy to comply with. Please use this guide as a general reference. It impossible to cover every minor rule or circumstance. Laws can change quickly or court rulings can change the current interpretation of a law. It is important that you stay informed.

    Pistol license application follow the following outline:

  1. Obtain an application from your local licensing agent, either the local police or county clerk.

  2. Fill in the application and obtain any required character references signatures and have your application Notarized.

  3. Be fingerprinted and submit your application.

  4. Wait while you are being investigated and your fingerprints are sent to the FBI.

  5. After your fingerprints are returned from the FBI and the investigation is completed your application is normally sent to your county’s Pistol License office and then forwarded to licensing officer for review and decision. (Depending on what the county that you live in requires, you may have to take a safety class and you may have to meet with the licensing officer. Some counties also have additional requirements.)

  6. The paperwork will be returned to the Pistol License office and they will send you a letter informing you of the outcome.

  7. If approved, you will have to go to the required location to have your license validated by putting your thumbprint on the back of  your license.  You will also be given a slip to give to the owner of the handgun that your are transferring to your license.

  8. Using your new license you can go to the store an pick up your first handgun.  Give them the Purchase Slip and they will retain the slip for their records.

  9. You are now a legal handgun owner in New York State.

    * Items in Italic are copied from Penal Law or Court Rulings.


    Each county in the state decides how to implement the state licensing system as outlined under NY State
Penal Law 400. All counties will do a background check and investigation you. You must meet the following requirement in all of the counties.

You must:

  1. be a resident of the county that you apply in.

  2. be 21 years old to be issued a license.

  3. have people willing to be character references.

  4. not be barred from owning a gun under federal or state law.

  5. be able to provide a set of fingerprints.

  6. provide 3 recent passport photos.

  7. answer all questions on an application.

  8. provide honest answers to all questions. (Supplying false information constitutes sufficient reason for denial of the application. YOU MUST LIST EVERY TIME YOU HAVE BEEN ARRESTED NO MATTER WHAT THE OUTCOME OR IF THE RECORDS ARE SEALED.)

  9. pay the required fees to the NYSDCJS and your local County Clerk.

  10. sign your application in front of a Notary Public who must fill in the bottom right section.

  11. have all handguns that you own listed on your license.

    Some counties might have additional requirements such as the character references must be residents of the county or might have to fill out an additional questionnaire. In some counties you might also have to meet with your investigator and/or licensing officer.





  • In almost all cases the licensing officer is a local county Judge with some counties having many Judges sharing the workload.

  • You can get information about where to get an application from your local County Clerk’s Office.

  • State Law requires that you be issued a license within six month or be given a reason why it is taking longer. (PL 400.4-A)

  • You can apply for several types of licenses. Among them are;

    • The most popular license used is: “have and carry concealed, without regard to employment or place of possession, by any person when proper cause exists for the issuance thereof”. This is used for general carry, sporting, target shooting and can be unrestricted, (preferred) or restricted. (Restrictions are determined by your Judge or other licensing officer.)

    • The sometimes used: “(a) have and possess in his dwelling by a householder; (b) have and possess in his place of business by a merchant or storekeeper;”. (This license is very limited. The gun is licensed for a specific location and can be legally transported only under very specific conditions. This type of license does not require “Proper Cause” but you are required to keep the gun at the licensed location. You are not allowed to take the handgun anywhere else except under very limited circumstances. This is the only type of license NYC now issues.)

    • The law allows for several other rarely used or very specific types of licenses such as, “justice of the supreme court in the first or second judicial departments, or by a judge of the New York city civil court or the New York City Criminal court”, employment by state or local governments in specific jobs.

  • You do not have to have a “spotless” record to get a license. The law allows you to explain any arrest or other problem that you might have in your background. Your licensing officer is the one who will determine if you get a license, let them decide if you are “of good moral character”.

  • Licenses in most counties are good for a lifetime, they are not renewed. Some counties do have renewable licenses such as NY City, Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester.

  • If you are between 14 and 21 you can still shoot a handgun without a license at a range under the supervision if you follow the simple requirement outlined under NY State law. See PL 265.20, (7-e)

  • If your licensing agent denies your license they, ” … shall … deny the application for reasons specifically and concisely stated in writing …”.


  • A license issued outside of NY City “shall not be valid within the city of New York unless a special permit granting validity is issued by the police commissioner of that city.” NY City no longer validates out of NY City licenses unless you are a retired NYC police officer.

  • You must submit an AMENDMENT to:

    • add or remove guns to your license. ($3) You must submit your amendment and be approved BEFORE you purchase a handgun. You will be given a slip to give to the FFL or owner of the handgun before you can take possession of the added handgun.

    • change your restrictions. ($3)

    • if you move to another county. “Notification of any change of residence shall be made in writing by any licensee within ten days after such change occurs, … “.($3)

    • to request a duplicate license. ($5 plus list of guns, 1 new photo and other minor requirement.)

    • register different barrels that fit on the same handgun.

  • AMENDMENTS must be approved by your licensing officer and can take from the same day or up to a month or more depending on the county.

  • “Every licensee while carrying a pistol or revolver shall have on his or her person a license to carry the same.” (The gun you are carrying must be on the license that you are carrying.)

  • Your licensing officer is statutorily invested with the power to subpoena, (at any time,) revoke or cancel a license.

  • PL 400.10 1. “(a) Any owner or other 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.”