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Mark I. Cohen, ESQ. NYC Criminal Attorney

Who Is Prohibited From Possessing A Firearm?


Under both state and federal law, you have the individual right to possess a firearm. However, it is crucial to note that this right is not absolute and is subject to reasonable restrictions. Both state and federal laws make it unlawful for certain categories of people to possess firearms. Usually, state firearm laws are more restrictive than federal firearm laws.

Below is a look at the categories of people prohibited from possessing firearms under federal and New York laws.

Federal Law

The federal Gun Control Act, which is codified at 18 U.S. Code Section 922, generally prohibits the possession of a firearm by an individual who;

  1. has been convicted of a criminal offense punishable by more than twelve months (felony); or
  2. is a fugitive from justice; or
  3. has been determined to be mentally defective or committed to a mental institution; or
  4. is addicted to or an unlawful user of a controlled substance; or
  5. is an illegal alien; or
  6. having been a U.S. citizen has renounced their citizenship; or
  7. has been released from the National Guard or the U.S military under dishonorable conditions; or
  8. is subject to a court order that restricts them from stalking, harassing, or threatening a spouse or a child of a spouse; or
  9. has been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.

New York Law

Most state laws, New York laws not being an exception, mirror federal law. For example, just as is with federal law, most states, including New York, restrict access of firearms to, among others;

  • people who’ve been convicted of a felony
  • people who are fugitives from justice
  • people who are addicted to or unlawful users of controlled substances
  • people who have renounced their citizenship
  • people who are illegal aliens

Additionally, according to New York Penal Law Section 400.00, in New York, unless under limited circumstances, a person cannot possess a firearm unless he or she:

  • is of good moral character
  • is at least twenty-one years of age. However, it’s crucial to note that this age limit does not apply to a person who has been honorably discharged from the U.S. military or New York National Guard.
  • has completed a firearms safety course and test. However, this restriction applies in Westchester County only.
  • has stated whether they have suffered from any mental illness.
  • has not been involuntarily committed to a facility under the jurisdiction of an office of the department of mental hygiene.
  • has not had their license revoked or is not under a suspension or ineligibility order pursuant to a domestic violence restraining order.
  • presents no good cause for the denial of a license.

Additionally, in New York, you cannot possess a firearm if you have been certified not suitable to possess a firearm by a qualified professional or convicted of a “serious offense.” Serious offenses under New York law include, among many others, the following:

  • Child endangerment
  • Making or possessing burglar’s instruments
  • Unlawful entry into a building
  • Certain kinds of stalking
  • Certain crimes permitting or promoting prostitution
  • Buying or receiving stolen property

Contact an NYC Weapons Charge Attorney

Need more information on federal and/or state firearm laws? If so, contact Mark I. Cohen, an experienced NYC weapons charge attorney, at 212-732-0002 today.

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