Assault Weapons

Is a hunting gun an assault weapon?

Most guns that are used for hunting are not assault weapons. Typical shotguns and hunting rifles are exempt as the law specifies military style assault weapons by design characteristics. For example, any pump, lever, or bolt action rifle or shotgun cannot be an assault weapon. 

Is a handgun an assault weapon?

Most handguns are not assault weapons. A traditionally designed handgun is not an assault weapon. For example a single shot pistol or a revolver cannot be an assault weapon.

How do I find out if the gun I own is an assault weapon?

Most guns are not assault weapons. There are different military characteristics of guns that determine whether they qualify as assault weapons.

To help you know whether or not your gun is affected by state laws, please see gun types below:

If I don't currently own an assault weapon, how does the new law on assault weapons affect me?

The ban on selling assault weapons mainly affects dealers and manufacturers. Newly banned assault weapons may not be sold in New York and dealers and manufacturers will know what weapons can and cannot be sold.

Magazines

What is the law regarding magazine capacity?

Since 1994, magazines sold in New York could contain up to 10 rounds. This continues to be true today. You may buy, sell, and possess any magazine that can hold up to 10 rounds, regardless of when it was manufactured. If you have a magazine that can contain more than 10 rounds, you had until January 15, 2014 to permanently modify the magazine so that it holds no more than ten rounds, responsibly discard it, transfer it to a law enforcement agency or officer, or sell it to a dealer or an out of state purchaser.

Can I continue to buy 10 round magazines?

Yes.

Q: Is there anything else I should be aware of?

Hunters should remember that for many years there have been round limitations when it comes to guns used during hunting. In New York you may not hunt with a semi-automatic gun that can contain more than 6 rounds unless it uses .22 or .17 caliber rimfire ammunition, is an autoloading pistol with a barrel length of less than eight inches, or has been altered to reduce its capacity to no more than 6 rounds in the magazine and chamber combined.

Find more hunting information.

Hunters

New York is one of the premiere hunting destinations in the United States. New York's gun laws have no impact on most hunters in New York, nor will it detract in any way from the state’s rich tradition of hunting. Learn more about hunting in New York State.

Frequently Asked Questions
 
How do the 2022 changes to New York State firearm laws apply to hunting activities?

Please refer to the Department of Environmental Conservation's frequently asked questions on this topic.

I am a hunter. Will New York's gun laws affect which firearms I may use to hunt?

Generally, no. Other than limiting the magazine capacity to ten rounds, New York's laws place no additional burdens on hunters.

I am a duck hunter. Will my shotgun be affected?

No. A plug reducing the capacity of some shotguns to 3 rounds is required by federal and state migratory fowl hunting requirements and was not imposed by the SAFE Act. You might need to register your semi-automatic shotgun as an Assault Weapon — check to see if your shotgun needs to be registered. (Most commercially available semi-automatic shotguns are not Assault Weapons.)

I am a deer hunter, but I don’t use a semi-automatic rifle. Are there any limitations on my hunting?

There are only limitations in your magazine capacity. You may not load more than ten rounds in any rifle magazine. This applies to all manually-operated rifles, including bolt action, lever action and pump action rifles.

But aren’t hunters already limited to loading 5 rounds?

Before the SAFE Act, hunters were limited to having 5 rounds in a magazine and 1 round in the chamber when it came to certain guns. The 5-round restriction [under the state’s Environmental Conservation Law] only applies to center-fire, semi-automatic rifles, semi-automatic shotguns, and semi-automatic pistols having 8 inch or longer barrels. This was not altered by the SAFE Act.

I shoot a lever action rifle that chambers a pistol cartridge (such as 44 Magnum or 45 Colt). My rifle’s tubular magazine holds 10 rounds. Can I load the magazine to capacity?

You may load up to a capacity of 10.

Can I still buy 10 round magazines for my Ruger 10/22 rimfire rifle that I use to hunt small game?

Yes. You can continue to buy the 10/22 and the replacement magazines.

I hunt deer with a pistol. Am I affected by New York's gun laws?

Most hunting handguns are not affected by New York's gun laws. However, you can check to see if your pistol is an assault weapon.

Aren't muzzle compensators used to reduce recoil on many hunting rifles?

Yes, and there are no restrictions on their use on manually-operated rifles or semi-automatic rifles with fixed magazines. However, if you have a muzzle compensator on a semi-automatic rifle with a detachable magazine, you may need to register it as an Assault Weapon if it can accept a detachable magazine capable of holding more than 5 rounds.

I hunt with a semi-automatic rifle. Five round magazines are too expensive, so I blocked one magazine with a wood insert so it would only accept 5 rounds. On the other magazine I inserted a machine screw so the follower wouldn’t move far enough to accept a 6th round. May I still do that?

If the unaltered magazine capacity is 10 rounds or fewer, yes. However, any magazine that has a capacity greater than 10 rounds must be permanently modified so that it may only contain 10 rounds.

Antique Guns & Magazines

Is there any exception for historic or antique guns and magazines?

Yes, they are exempt from the prohibition against transfer, but if the gun qualifies as an assault weapon or the magazine holds over ten rounds it must be registered.

What qualifies as an antique gun or magazine?

Any magazine or gun manufactured more than 50 years ago.

I have an antique gun that now qualifies as an assault weapon. Can I transfer it?

Yes. As long as the gun is registered as an assault weapon by the new owner upon taking possession, it can be freely transferred to anyone that is not otherwise prohibited from gun possession.

I have an antique gun with a magazine that can contain more than ten rounds. Can I keep the magazine?

Yes, provided that you register both the gun and magazine using the same simple registration process that is used for assault weapons. 

Private Sales

What types of private handgun, rifle or shotgun sales or transfers are subject to background check requirements?

All private handgun, rifle or shotgun sales or transfers (with the exception of those sales or transfers to and between certain family members) require a background check of the buyer.

What family members are exempt from the private sale/transfer provision?

Sales or transfers to and between spouses, domestic partners, children and step-children, are exempt from the private sale/transfer provision.

As a private individual seller/transferor, how do I conduct a background check on a buyer or transferee?

The background check must be performed by a dealer. Federal law and guidelines govern the process that dealers must follow if they choose to conduct a background check for a private sale.

You, the seller/transferor, bring the weapon to any dealer that agrees to facilitate the sale or transfer. The dealer conducts an instant background check of the buyer/transferee—the same check run for all retail firearm sales. The dealer may not charge more than $10 for this service.

You may visit the dealer along with the buyer/transferee and complete the sale or transfer together, or you may leave your firearm with the dealer to complete the sale or transfer on your behalf.

Do I need to get a background check if I am selling or transferring the firearm to a relative?

No background check is required for sales or transfers to spouses, domestic partners, children and step-children.

Are dealers required to facilitate a private sale or transfer?

No, dealers in New York are not required to facilitate private firearm sales or transfers. However, if they do, they may not charge more than $10 per firearm to complete the sale or transfer. It is up to the private parties to decide who is responsible for paying the dealer.

What if I fail to comply with the background check provision?

Failure to comply with the provision is punishable as a class A misdemeanor.

Safe Storage

How does the law enacted in 2022 impact transporting guns in a vehicle?

Effective September 1, 2022, if you leave your gun unattended in a vehicle, it must be unloaded and locked in a fire, impact, and tamper resistant storage depository that is hidden from view. Glove compartments and glove boxes are not appropriate safe storage depositories. A plastic or aluminum, lockable, hard-sided, gun case or safe will suffice for this purpose. 

If an adult remains with the vehicle to ensure security, a case or safe is not required. To prevent theft and ensure safety, it is always recommended that firearms be secured during transport.   Local rules for traveling with firearms also apply and may be more restrictive. For example, New York City requires that all guns be unloaded, in a case, and out of sight, even when you are with the vehicle (Penal Law § 265.45).

How am I required to store my guns in my home?

If anyone younger than 18 years old or anyone who is prohibited from possessing a gun resides in the home, all firearms, rifles, and shotguns not in your immediate control must either be:

  • secured with a gun locking device (trigger lock or cable lock) that makes them incapable of being accessed or fired by the prohibited individual, or
  • locked securely in a safe or secure container that is fire, impact, and tamper resistant and which is locked using a key, keypad, or combination. 

Find more information on how to safely store your gun

FOIL Exemption

New York State protects the privacy of pistol license holders by permitting them to notify a County Clerk that they do not wish for their information to be released publicly. Under the law, current licensees and new applicants may make this notification to their licensing officer using a form approved by the Superintendent of the New York State Police.

Frequently Asked Questions
Where do I get the FOIL form?

The form is available here, or through your licensing office, either on paper or online. For more information, check with your county office.

How do I complete the form?

In the first section, you will need to fill out your name, date of birth, address and the county in which you are applying. If you hold a firearms license, there is a space for you to provide the license number as well. In the second section, check the box that best describes the reason your information should not be publicly disclosed. To complete the form, sign and date it.

Once I’ve completed the form, how do I submit it?

To submit your form, take it to your local licensing office.