When they kick out your front door, how you gonna come?
April 9, 2014 2:19 PM   Subscribe

A friend of mine, a NYC resident with no firearm permit from the NYPD, recently purchased a rifle at a gun show in PA (apparently the dealer didn't recognize his address as being within NYC and didn't ask him for a permit, as NY state residents can purchase rifles without one). He says he does plan on applying for the necessary permit, but in the meantime is storing the rifle in his home. How likely is he to get into any trouble?

I told him that there is probably some kind of record of his purchase and that someone might come knocking at his door before he's granted a permit, but he isn't so sure. Even if the city doesn't know about his purchase, will he have any trouble registering the gun when they see that the date of purchase was prior to him having obtained the permit to own the rifle? I'm trying to convince him to at least store the rifle somewhere outside of the city until he gets his permit, but would that even be enough to keep him out of trouble?
posted by Venadium to Law & Government (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: It depends, is he dumb enough to run his mouth, brag about purchasing a gun, and show it to everyone and their mother? If not, then he should be fine although I stress that it is illegal.

Gun shows have been a bane of gun control for a while now for multiple reasons including the lack of background checks and ease of purchase. Yes, there will be a record but unless he gives a reason for the police to go digging, they won't find it. States aren't the greatest about sharing gun information unless there is a reason. But I wouldn't chance it either, get registered ASAP and if they ask, you're picking it up from your great aunt's place in Scranton.

Again, it's illegal but SWAT will not be knocking down his door because he's a week late with the paperwork..
posted by lpcxa0 at 3:20 PM on April 9, 2014

Best answer: Sorry, he's fine. If the person who sold him the gun was in fact a firearms dealer, then federal law requires that he record the transfer. However, federal law explicitly prevents the establishment of any kind of central registry of that documentation. And, if the person was not a firearms dealer but just a guy selling his guns at a gun show, then there's no record-keeping required at all; PA requires that private sales of handguns be recorded and reported to the police, but not rifles.
posted by nicwolff at 3:32 PM on April 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

Federal law forbids a resident of one state buying a gun in another state without the deal going thru a FFL (licensed dealer). If your friend's gun comes to the attention of law enforcement, he could be in big trouble.

I'm not sure the best way to get things straight, but it would probably serve to take the gun to a FFL in PA and start from there, maybe with a tale about a friend-to-friend sale in PA. That dealer would have to send it to an FFL in NY. Totals fees might run $150.

And people think we have no gun control in this country!

Two other approaches: just give up the gun at a gun buyback promising amnesty, or get advice from an attorney specializing in gun law.
posted by SemiSalt at 4:50 PM on April 9, 2014

Response by poster: According to him it was a licensed dealer, not a private seller. I know he would still be in trouble if the law found out somehow, but my question was only if there was some kind of system that would bring it to their attention or some other way they'd learn about the gun other than someone calling the precinct and telling them that it's there.

Anyway, thanks for the info. I totally support his right to purchase firearms, I'm just kind of surprised that it was this easy. Thankfully this is an 80-year old Russian bolt-action rifle we're talking about here, not something deadlier
posted by Venadium at 5:21 PM on April 9, 2014

Federal law forbids a resident of one state buying a gun in another state without the deal going thru a FFL (licensed dealer). If your friend's gun comes to the attention of law enforcement, he could be in big trouble.

This is not true for long arms (rifles and shotguns). Most FFLs won't sell to out of staters anyway (especially at a gun show due to ATF trolling) but it isn't technically illegal under federal law (don't know about Pennsylvania).
posted by bartonlong at 6:31 PM on April 9, 2014

You can buy long guns in any state (if not prohibited by state law; Pennsylvania is pretty liberal) so the transaction probably wasn't illegal, nor is there any requirement for the selling FFL to verify that the gun being sold is legal according to the local laws of wherever the buyer happens to live. (Though not raising an eyebrow to a NYC address is pretty derp.) The problem happened when your friend crossed into NYC, he was okay until then. Which is good, in a sense: if the gun had been acquired illegally (however technically) it'd be a whole different story.

If I were your friend, I would get the gun out of NY State immediately, find a safe place to legally store it, and then register it in NYC before bringing it back. At least then he will have some plausible deniability during the registration process as to where it was stored between the date of purchase and the date the gun is registered and thus legal to bring into NYC.

Because as part of the registration process, he will need to produce documentation of when/where the gun was purchased, and where it has been stored since:
When a gun is bought from a gun dealer outside New York City, the original bill of sale or a copy must be submitted along with the completed registration form. [...]
If the permit holder has a gun stored in a residence outside of New York City and wishes to register it in New York City, he or she must submit a notarized letter listing the make, model and serial number of the gun and the address where it was stored. The letter must also indicate how the firearm was originally obtained. The permit holder must also complete a registration form and submit it.
So your friend is already in a situation where they are going to be lying on the application. Personally, if I were going to lie in writing in an official document, I would want it to at least be plausible and have some sort of basis in truth.

Also, one presumes your friend already has a NYC rifle/shotgun license, because they need that in addition to registering the individual firearm. If they don't, that's $231.50 in application fees ($140 app plus $91.50 fingerprinting), has to be done in person, and it takes anywhere from 2 to 5 months to process. So the soup to nuts timeline on getting the gun legally registered in the City could be very long; I would not want to have it illegally in my possession the whole time, if it were me.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:15 PM on April 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Fed rules here: https://www.atf.gov/content/firearms-frequently-asked-questions-unlicensed-persons#out-of-state-firearm You are interested in the first few questions. N
For NY state regs, you will have to look elsewhere.
posted by SemiSalt at 5:51 AM on April 10, 2014

« Older Why is there no such thing as urgent care for...   |   This is my perfect running song. Are there others... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.