Pistol Permits in New York, New Jersey, and In-Between


Would you like to purchase a pistol, or just use a gun in New York or New Jersey? Welcome to the Red Tape Republic, Inc.


DISCLAIMER: this is not legal advice, and I am no lawyer. Any and all text provided herein is intended for purely informative purposes.
Please consult with your doctor before reading; it might cause migraines and uncontrollable contempt for the state, its legislature and the law in general.


I’ll try to explain the process as simply as possible here. If you get a great big headache, you have absolutely no grounds to sue us. And no, we have absolutely no affiliation with Tylenol, Advil, or any other pain medication company.


Let’s start with a short introduction:


Federal law and the definition of firearms:

Firearms, their purchase and possession is governed by federal law everywhere in the United States.

States and local governments can add their own requirements, amendments and restrictions.


Federal law determines which types of firearms are legal or illegal, and how they are classified. At this point, it is not so important to understand every single aspect of these laws. Suffice to say that if a certain firearm is commercially available, in all probability it is “kosher” for you – at least from the Feds’ perspective.


According to federal law, if you are not prohibited from owning a firearm (for all practical purposes, this means you haven’t been convicted of a felony), and the firearm is legal according to federal law, you can purchase the firearm.

The process is very simple: you walk into the gunshop, ask for a specific firearm, they perform a background check on the spot, you pay, and voila, you own a new gun.


Here is when state and local laws come in.

States and localities impose their own requirements and restrictions at will.

The restrictions come in two forms:

  1. Restriction on the type of firearm
  2. Restriction on ownership (permit requirements)



The former –restrictions on the type of firearm- means your state can decide that certain firearms are verboten, even though they’re federally legal. For example, in the state of New York, if a rifle can actually fire a bullet, it is illegal. (Just kidding – but that’s the direction we’re “progressing” in.) States can impose limits on magazine capacity and other features (such as flash hiders or protruding grips). You don’t have much input other than the voting booth and contacting your elected officials.


The second are permit requirement to own guns. The permits, needless to say, are rife with completely unnecessary obstacles.


New York State:

Here are permit requirements for the State of New York – note these are only for the New York State, and not NYC. In NYC there are much more requirements.


In NYS you do not need a permit for long guns – meaning rifles and shotguns. Semiautomatic guns are heavily regulated, and so-called “New-York Compliant” versions are available.


Handguns in NYS require a permit.

The procedure is thus: you have to apply for a permit in your county of residence. You first have to go to your County office, and ask for a pistol permit application. Some counties will ask for the fee at this point, while others may let you pay in a few separate steps. The major requirements are getting filling out the paperwork – including references (more on this later), getting fingerprinted, and taking a safety class. The fingerprinting will usually be at the sheriff’s office by appointment, but some counties may allow walk-ins and/or private parties. You’ll have to take a safety class. NRA Basic or FIRST STEPS are accepted in most counties, but some only allow their Sheriff’s office to give a safety class. The paperwork is fairly straightforward. The painful part is giving four references – this is where they “get” you. The references must be county residents and know you for two years or more, and not be relatives. In other words, you must tell at least four people that you want to apply for a pistol permit. Here’s where you have to pay attention: let each reference know that they’ll get a mail from the state with a questionnaire about you. Most people see a generic white envelope and discard it – while you keep waiting for your permit. When you call the county, they tell you they didn’t get the references’ questionnaires back. After that, in most counties you’ll get your permit in the mail. Some counties won’t give you the permit until you actually buy a gun.


Enough headaches yet?

Wait; we ain’t done yet. Each time you want to buy a gun, before you can actually pick it up, you must go to the county and add your gun to your license. That’s right – go to the gunshop, pick a gun, give a deposit, go to the county, give them your license, $5, and the gun’s details (Make, Model, Caliber & Serial Number)  wait at home for the license, go back to the gunshop, pay in full.


If you think this is sheer insanity, please contact all your elected officials, and use discretion at the voting booth.


Note, that in NYS you’re not allowed to even touch a handgun without a permit.


New Jersey:

If you think New York was bad, think again.

In New Jersey you must have a permit, which is termed an FID – or Firearms ID for any type of gun.  The procedure for an FID in NJ is identical to the pistol permit process in NY.

When you want a handgun, you again have to go to the police (or county) and ask for a “pistol receipt”. That “receipt” allows you to purchase handguns in NJ and expires within 90 days. As in NY, you’ll have to register (or “add to your license”) every new handgun you acquire. This of course preempts all possibility of private sales of handguns in both states.


So there you have it. This is all you have to go through to get a pistol in these sad states.