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Gun ownership in New York State: What you need to know

NYPD Commissioner James P. O'Neill tosses a pistol

NYPD Commissioner James P. O'Neill tosses a pistol on top of about 2,000 guns slated for destruction in Manhattan on Oct. 26, 2016. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

Here’s what you need to know about gun legislation in New York State and on Long Island:

What is the law on gun ownership in New York State?

A pistol license and background check are required to possess a handgun in New York State. No license is needed to buy a rifle or shotgun, except in New York City, though a background check is conducted.

New York is one of a small number of states where local governments can enact legislation that varies from state law.

For instance, in New York City, pistol licenses must be renewed every three years for a fee of $340. In Nassau and Suffolk counties, licenses need to be renewed every five years.

The safe-storage requirements in New York City and Albany are also stricter than the rest of the state. Guns must be secured with a trigger lock when unattended in New York City; in Albany, unattended guns can also be secured in a safe.

Are there assault weapons restrictions?

Yes. After the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the state passed the SAFE Act, banning all assault-style weapons except for those considered antique or purchased before January 2013.

Magazines that hold more than 10 rounds are also prohibited.

Anyone who owns a pre-ban weapon was required to register with the state.

While fully automatic weapons are illegal, state law does currently allow for the sale of “bump stocks” and other devices that can be applied to semi-automatic rifles to allow for quicker firing.

Who can own a gun?

You must be at least 21 years old, unless you have been honorably discharged from the armed forces, to obtain a license for a handgun.

Applicants can’t have prior felony or “serious offense” convictions, which include child endangerment, unlawful entry and certain kinds of drug offenses.

People who have been involuntarily committed to a mental health facility cannot be issued a license.

Mental health professionals in the state are required to report to their county director of community services any patients they consider “likely to engage in conduct that could seriously harm” themselves or others. The state then determines if the patient is ineligible to own a firearm.

If the applicant is not a U.S. citizen, they must be living in the country legally.

What’s the legal process to get a handgun in New York?

In most of the state, pistol licenses are issued through the county court.

In New York City, Nassau and parts of Suffolk County, applications are processed through the respective police departments. The Suffolk Sheriff’s Office handles applications for residents of the county’s five East End towns.

The application fee in Nassau is $200. It is $10 in Suffolk, with additional fees for fingerprinting.

On Long Island, you must also get a purchase document from the police department or sheriff’s office. After buying a gun from a retail store or online, it must be taken to the licensing authority to have it added onto a pistol license.

Before a gun can be transferred from dealer to purchaser, federal law requires either the completed background check or for three business days to pass. A proposed bill in New York would increase that to 10 days.

How many pre-ban assault weapons are there in the state?

According to New York State Police, 44,160 assault weapons have been registered.

How many people own handguns on Long Island?

Authorities recorded 66,475 active pistol permits in Long Island communities as of the end of January 2016, according to data from Nassau and Suffolk county police and the Suffolk sheriff’s office.

Which state has the strictest gun laws?

California has the strictest gun-control measures, according to a 2016 analysis by the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. The state was the only one to earn an A on the Giffords Center’s report card judging states on whether they have regulations in place like concealed carry laws or require private sale background checks.

New York was given an A-.

Which state has the most lenient gun laws?

Mississippi. The state fell to the bottom of the Giffords report card after it enacted a 2016 law allowing citizens to carry a concealed firearm without a state-issued permit.

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