There has been aggressive lobbying to loosen up New York’s gun laws which are considered one of the most restrictive in the US. This is based on the state courts’ position that the “right to bear arms” does not necessarily refer to a private individual’s right but to organized state militia. Any person is subject to gun possession law while in the jurisdiction of the state of New York. These laws are primarily embodied in Article 265 and 400 of New York Penal Law.

Article 265 refers to provisions for firearms and other dangerous weapons while Article 400 refers to firearm and weapon licensing. Handguns are generally banned expect in some exemptions such as sports use, and requires a license. Article 265 is not restricted to firearms, but may also refer to some types of knives, shuriken, clubs, explosives, stun guns, and so on. Semi-automatic rifles with a detachable magazine or shotguns with one or more of the following features are banned state-wide:

  • Bayonet lug
  • Flash suppressor
  • Grenade launcher
  • Pistol grip
  • Telescoping or folding
  • Threaded barrel
  • Muzzle break (until December 2014)
  • Muzzle compensator
  • Thumbhole stock
  • Foregrip

It would be taking a risk to go to New York with a weapon without knowing the applicable laws, especially as enforcement of these state laws may vary depending on the area, which can make it confusing for most people and lead to unfortunate incidents. For example, New York rural areas will only make an arrest if there is demonstrable malicious intent. In many such charges, the defendant must put up an affirmative defense, which means that possession is not contested but that there was no malicious intent. This is not a valid defense in certain areas such as New York City where merely possessing a firearm illegally is a crime.

If you have been charged with illegal gun or weapons possession, you could be facing some serious criminal sanctions. Consult with an experienced New York criminal defense lawyer to make sure that your rights are protected and your legal options thoroughly explored.