All said and done, buying your first pistol and getting your concealed carry permit in New York State can easily take six months and cost over $1,000.
New York is known as a “may issue” state. This means even if you have no criminal background and no history of violence or mental illness, you may still be denied a license to obtain a pistol in the state.
This is very different from their approach to rifles and shotguns. Just walk in and pick out the one you want. After a 4473 form and a quick 15-minute NICS check, you’re walking out the door with your new firearm in hand.
Pistol permits have a few more steps involved. Every county has a different fee but roughly the same process.
The first step to getting your Concealed Carry Permit in New York State is filling out an application. Your local sheriff should have an application on their website or in the licensing office if you decide to go in person.
In Broome County, NY, for example, the application fee for a restricted permit is $140 and must be dropped off in person along with four passport-sized photos. These will cost around $20 to $30 depending on where you get them. In New York City, the application fee is over $400.
This, however, is merely a restricted license to own a pistol for hunting and target shooting. This is NOT a license for concealed carry. Check your local, state, and federal regulations to see where you are allowed to possess a firearm at this time.
When I dropped my application off, I was informed the current wait time was three to six months. This will vary with the size of the department and how many people have been applying. My wait for the restricted permit was just under the six-month mark.
During this waiting period, they are running your background check and sometimes calling references. Realistically, this five-month process most likely takes around an hour to complete.
Waiting periods like these can have devastating effects on law-abiding citizens. In New Jersey, for example, you must prove your life is in imminent danger, then go through a 30-day waiting period. This did not work out well for Carol Browne, whose ex-boyfriend stabbed her to death while she was waiting for New Jersey to process her paperwork.
Five months after filing my application, I received my restricted carry permit in the mail – a $160 piece of paper with one of the passport photos glued to it. With a restricted carry permit, you can open carry while hunting, target shooting, and in your home. Carrying concealed during these activities is still illegal.
The restricted carry permit is larger than any credit card. You are not allowed to laminate it, but you must carry it whenever you carry your pistol. It seems like they put effort into making sure every step is as inconvenient as possible.
Many New Yorkers think “I don’t want to go through all of that” because the process is so long and expensive. Increasing the cost of entry is one way of making sure low-income people can’t defend themselves, though low-income areas seem to need the protection the most.
After you receive your restricted permit, the next step is finding the right pistol to purchase. Your neighbor might love his Glock 17, while your buddy loves his Kimber. Your second cousin twice removed may love her Sig Sauer with the Romeo Zero red dot and stippled grips.
The best thing you can do to be sure you’ve made the right choice of firearm is to find a range that will let you try different firearms. Some places even offer low-price training courses for basic safety. It’s always worth a long drive to a shop with a range to save yourself buying 10 guns to find out you don’t enjoy shooting 8 of them.
In 2013, Andrew Cuomo passed the New York Safe Act. This prohibits ownership of semi-automatic rifles, shotguns, and pistols with detachable magazines that have certain features. These features include
A Ruger 10/22 is perfectly legal until you put it in a chassis with a pistol grip. Then it becomes an assault weapon. No threaded barrels. Muzzle brakes. Compensators. This applies to pistols and shotguns as well.
All magazines are limited to 10 rounds. Larger magazines may be limited by your licensed dealer before transfer to remain compliant.
To avoid going with a “featureless” build, many people have gone with a fixed magazine option. This allows you to have any features you want because it doesn’t have a “detachable magazine.”
This applies to single-shot pistols like the Thompson encore as well as revolvers.
If you can’t find the pistol you want locally, there are places online that will ship the firearm to your local dealer. Buds Gun Shop is a personal favorite.
Every firearms dealer in the country must have a Federal Firearms License (FFL) to legally transfer a firearm.
Purchasing a pistol in another state means it will have to be shipped to a New York State dealer before being transferred to you. Make sure the dealer you choose is close to your sheriff’s department. You’re going to be making a few trips.
Once you find the pistol you’re going to purchase, you’ll have to pay for it (just a transfer fee if you ordered online).
Again, the above steps were just to get your restricted license. Carrying your firearm concealed takes a few more steps.
After receiving your restricted permit, you can sign up for one of the approved concealed carry courses. Most courses cost around $200 and do not include ammo. Courses usually go over basic firearm safety, as well as when you can use your firearm defensively.
After receiving a certificate of completion from your concealed carry course, you are now eligible to apply for your concealed carry permit.
You will be required to write a letter to the judge explaining why you should get your license to carry. They should cover this in your concealed carry course, and you may have different requirements depending on the judge for your county.
Another $25 fee for another background check (this too may change depending on location).
Within a few weeks, you should get a letter stating whether you were approved or denied. If approved, you will have to go pick up your permit in person. If it’s been more than 30 days, you’ll have to get new passport photos taken as well.