Possession – Rifles and Shotguns
December 5, 2011
December 5, 2011
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Possession – Handguns

Possession – 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 storekeeper is located. An alien may obtain a pistol license if he or she meets these requirements. The determination whether to grant the license is completely within the discretion of the licensing officer. However, the licensing officer must state specifically and concisely in writing the reasons for a denial. A denial can only be overturned in court if the denial is shown to be arbitrary and capricious.
Westchester County may require the applicant to successfully complete a firearms safety course and test in addition to meeting the other requirements. Other counties also require a safety course for license issuance.
A license may be granted to an applicant who is of good moral character, who is over 21 years of age, who has not been convicted of a serious offense, who states if and when he has ever been treated for mental illness, who is not subject to a protective court order and 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 21 may possess 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. A person between the ages of 18 and 21 may also possess a handgun at a target pistol shooting competition under the auspices of or approved by the NRA and while under immediate supervision).
An investigation will be conducted regarding 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 the applicant’s 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. A demonstration of need must be shown, however, 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. (It should be noted further that an “on premises only” license technically does not authorize the holder even to transport the handgun from its place of purchase to the location stated on the license.)
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 excused for good cause only.
If issued, a license is valid until revoked, except in New York City where a license shall expire not more than 3 years after the date of issuance, and in Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester Counties where a license shall expire not more than 5 years after the date of issuance.
A 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. 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 regard to the 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 or license applicant at a target range.
The name and address submitted by an applicant to obtain the license becomes a matter of public record.
A licensee who moves his residence to another licensing jurisdiction within the state shall provide notification of the change in writing within ten days after such change occurs, and a record of such change shall be inscribed by such licensee on the reverse side of his license. Failure to notify of the change of residence may result in an inability to obtain amendments, and possible revocation of the license.


Firearm laws are subject to frequent change and court interpretation. This summary is not intended as legal advice or restatement of law. This summary does not include federal or local laws, ordinances or regulations. For any particular situation, a licensed local attorney must be consulted for an accurate interpretation.