Throughout the nation, there is a lot of talk about how easy, or hard it is to buy a gun.

The recent mass shootings that we've had in the last few weeks have reinvigorated these conversations in New York, the United States, along with other countries like Canada.

New York has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country, and some recent changes that the New York State legislature made have made things even more difficult for some sectors of the population in New York, but have you ever wondered exactly how difficult it is to acquire a firearm in the Empire State?

When you compare it to our northern neighbors in Ontario, the process is pretty similar depending on the type of weapon you are looking to purchase.

How To Buy A Gun In New York

The process to buy in New York depends on a few different factors, which include:

Where do you live? The process and rules are different for New York City compared to the rest of the state.
What type of firearm are you trying to purchase? Purchasing a rifle or shotgun is different than purchasing a handgun.

Getting a Rifle or Shotgun

Outside of New York City, if you wish to purchase a rifle or shotgun, the process is relatively simple and straightforward, and prior to any changes in New York law, you do not need a permit or prior authorization to own one.

  • If you are over 18 (now 21 depending on the type of rifle it is) and are of good moral character, then you can walk into just about any gunshop in the state and make a purchase.
  • You'll need to complete ATF Form 4473 and submit to a National Instant Criminal Search (NICS) criminal background check.
    • That background check takes approximately 30 seconds.
      • If you pass that background check, then you are free to complete the purchase of that rifle or shotgun.
      • If you do not pass the background check or if there is a need for further investigation, the FBI has 3 business days to investigate and give a determination.
        • If that determination isn't provided within those 3 business days, then you will be cleared to make the purchase.
      • If they do make a determination that is against you, then you are not allowed to make the purchase, but you can file an appeal with the FBI if you believe they made a mistake.

In all, if you pass the background check, you can purchase a rifle or shotgun in most of New York in less than 30 minutes.

Getting a Handgun

Buying a handgun in New York is much more complicated and difficult compared to buying a long gun. A license is required to own any handgun in New York, the process is largely the same throughout the state (outside of NYC), but is managed on the county level, so it can vary a little from county to county.

In Erie County, the process includes:

  • You have to be at least 21 years old
  • You must take and pass a state-mandated handgun safety course
  • Be fingerprinted and submit to local, state, and federal background checks
  • Complete a County and State application for a gun permit.
  • Be willing to be interviewed by the local police department after your application is submitted
  • Provide 4 character witnesses that will also be interviewed by local police
  • Once everything is completed, your application will be reviewed by a local judge to determine if it is approved or denied.
  • You will be notified in writing by US Mail.
    • If you're approved, then you're authorized to buy a gun.
    • If denied, then you will have the opportunity to appeal.

In all, it can take anywhere between 3 months to 18 months to obtain your handgun license in certain parts of New York.

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