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Legal Information: New York

State Gun Laws

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November 9, 2020

If the abuser has been convicted of a crime, can s/he legally keep or buy a gun?

New York state law says that a person can NEVER have a “rifle or shotgun” if s/he has been convicted of a felony or serious offense.1 Also, a person cannot have any “firearm” outside of his/her home or place of business if s/he has been convicted of a felony or a class A misdemeanor within the past five years.2

1 NY Penal Law § 265.01(4)
2 NY Penal Law § 265.02(5)(ii)

How can I find out if the abuser has been convicted of a crime?

Misdemeanor and felony records are open to the public, but they are not always easy to access. If you know the exact courthouse where your abuser may have been convicted, you can go to the courthouse and ask the clerk of court for access to those records.

Domestic violence misdemeanor and felony records are also kept in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). However, no one other than law enforcement officials and licensed firearm sellers are allowed to search the NICS. Your local police department may be willing to search NICS for you if you ask, but they are not required to do so.

To read more about the NICS, please see the question What will happen if the abuser tries to buy a gun when s/he isn’t supposed to?

Can the police remove a gun from the scene of a family offense?

New York state law says that the police officer who responds to a report of a family offense may take custody of any gun and/or license to carry that s/he finds regardless of whether an arrest is made. Often the gun is found because the victim or abuser consents to the home being searched, or there is another lawful reason for the police to do a search.

If a gun is taken, then the officer will give the abuser a receipt with information about the gun and information about the process for getting it back. The gun has to be returned within 48 hours unless the abuser is arrested, a protection order is issued that prohibits firearm possession, or it is determined that there is another reason why the abuser cannot have the gun.1

1 NY Criminal Procedure Law § 140.10(6)