Are Rifles and Handguns Treated the Same under New York Law?
A lot of clients come to me and ask me about the difference under New York law about the difference between rifles, shotguns, and handguns. The truth is that there is a substantial difference. The definition of firearms in New York specifically excludes rifles and shotguns from the definition. Rifles and shotguns are in a whole different category than firearms, which are handguns. Sawed-off shotguns, which are shotguns with a barrel with less than 18 inches, or sawed-off rifles with a barrel of less than 16 inches, are firearms under the laws of the state of New York, but typical rifles and shotguns of average length that have not been modified are not considered firearms in New York state. As a result, different laws apply.
Now New York City has very different laws, and one has to be very mindful of the laws in New York City. When we’re talking about the New York state penal law specifically as it applies to rifles and shotguns, most people are quite capable of possessing rifles and shotguns in New York without a license. Pistols, on the other hand, require a license in all cases for people to possess them unless they fall under a specific exemption such as police officers and peace officers in New York State.
The laws are very complicated here in New York with the possession of both rifles and shotguns, which very often can be bought over the counter at sporting good shops and the possession of handguns. If you’re not sure whether or not it’s legal for you to possess a rifle or shotgun or for you to possess a handgun, it’s very important for you to speak to an attorney who’s familiar with this area. The laws are very convoluted and very complex, and the average citizen might have trouble navigating them.