Welcome to New York: Your Lack of "Character" Means No Handgun Permit

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​Two cops -- a man and woman -- stood at the door when the senior citizen opened it one afternoon in Middle Village, Queens. The female cop had her hand on the butt of her holstered handgun.

"You registered a couple of rifles last year," the female cop explained. "But you didn't register this year. Are the guns still in your home?"

This is the reality of gun control in New York City, according to my uncle.

The above scenario occurred a few years ago. My uncle told the cops he didn't register them because they were stored at a friend's house in New Jersey. (I didn't disrespect Uncle Bob by asking him whether he'd told the cops the truth.)

"Mind if we come in and look around?" one of the cops asked.

Uncle Bob, ever mindful of his civil rights, told the cops to take a hike unless they had a warrant.

This story is never far from my thoughts in any debate on gun control.

Could mental-health evaluations really become a prerequisite for firearm ownership? If so, New York would probably be among the first states to try it. New York City's handgun restrictions are pretty close already. (As the anecdote shows, the state's not exactly mellow about long guns, either.)

If you move from New York to Arizona, your freedoms expand. But if you move from Arizona to New York City, one thing you'll have to do is question whether it's worth it to bring your handguns. If you do bring them, it'll cost you a yearly fee for each one. Handguns have to stay in your home, for the most part. All this assumes you first were approved for a handgun license.

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A New York Police Department Web site explains all the different ways you might be disqualified from obtaining a license:

A history of arrest or conviction, depending upon the severity of the charges and the amount of time that has elapsed since your last arrest or conviction.
Your failure to disclose your full criminal history, including sealed arrests, on your application;
A history of domestic violence incidents;
A history of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI, DWI, DWAI);
Your failure to cooperate with the investigation of your application;
A poor DMV history, including moving violations, failure to appear and answer summonses or failure to pay fines.

This list is not exclusive. If your investigation results in a determination that you lack character and fitness for a license or permit, your application will be denied.

 

Gee, you're a scofflaw? A crappy driver? You've got two DUIs on your record? No handgun for you.

The last two sentences are key in showing an arbitrariness to the system. Bureaucrats decide you "lack character and fitness" for the license, and your privilege of owning a handgun disappears.

The part about disclosing your sealed criminal history means extra hoops to jump through if you were ever arrested:

License Division rules require all applicants to disclose their arrest history and submit a Certificate of Disposition showing the offense and dispostion of the charges, along with a notarized statement describing the circumstances surrounding each arrest. This information must be provided even if the case was dismissed, the record sealed or the case nullified by operation of law. Failure or refusal to disclose this information will result in the disapproval of your application for a license or permit.

Have fun finding that "Certificate of Disposition" for your arrest 20 years ago and writing the notarized description of the incident.

I admit that New York City's methods might well have stopped Jared Lee Loughner. It's a worthy debate, considering whether such a system -- or something even more draconian -- might be better than what we have now. 

But we have to ask: Do we want or need gun-control laws like New York's, or stricter? I say no -- as I said earlier today in my blog post/diatribe on mental health evaluations. Our treasured readers, undoubtedly, have their own opinions.

My colleague and water-cooler debate opponent, Stephen Lemons, contends not only that I've  made a straw-man argument, but even worse, that I'm wrong. (He may talk of straw-man arguments, but we're still trying to figure out who he means when he wrote "there are many out there who demand carte blanche. They want what they want, and they don't seem too troubled when other members of society have to deal with the bloody consequences.")

Lemons quotes Dan Vice of the Brady Campaign, who dutifully tells him the campaign has no intention of lobbying for something like a mental health evaluation prior to a gun sale. That may even be true.

Then again, the campaign has been having trouble passing more innocuous measures in the past few years, and it's had setbacks, such as the advance of "castle doctrine" laws and two key U.S. Supreme Court rulings. The campaign has been forced by the National Rifle Association to lower its sights. But like many activist groups, including the NRA, the Brady Campaign needs to keep coming up with ideas in the future to energize its fundraising needs. I'll go out on a limb and assume most Brady supporters would want New York-style handgun restrictions, at least.

Two other points about Lemons' rebuttal:

* Motor vehicles are more dangerous than guns, so more restrictions and training are needed. Even then, sometimes accidents happen that take out large numbers of victims.

* Lemons isn't concerned about the price of guns for consumers or the impact of restrictions on the firearms industry, but only because he'd rather see a much smaller industry selling firearms that few could afford. He doesn't mind regulatory ideas that would reduce the number of firearms in society -- that's one of the goals of gun-control advocates. Clearly, anyone thinking of buying a gun in the future should be wary of plans that would not only drive the cost up, but lead toward a more restrictive environment for owning or using the gun.

If gun-control advocates have their way, the cops might come to your doorstop someday, asking about your guns. Like they do in New York.


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26 comments
The Lou Show
The Lou Show

Idiot Joshua (below) thinks confiscation is the problem. WRONG!Let's prevent idiots (and while we're at it, let's include Joshua) from getting guns in the first place.Joshua would most likely fix the barn door AFTER the cows come home.

Joshua Berger
Joshua Berger

Actually, Mr Stern, you nailed it.

Unfortunately it appears that you've aroused the ire of the entire staff of Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

Perhaps "Expert Shot" should be reminded of the "confiscation sweeps" in New Orleans in the wake of Katrina. Or the carry prohibitions in North Carolina in the event of an emergency. Or the public musings of California Attorney General Kamala Harris who threatened door to door searches for guns in San Francisco.

Perhaps (s)he should also research the history of asymetrical warfare with regards to a slightly armed populace and a more heavily armed opponent (see Afghanistan (1980-2011), Iraq, Chechnya, etc.).

The Lou Show
The Lou Show

Stern:

Faulty logic with your "If you move from New York to Arizona, your freedoms expand."

I guess you mean that in Arizona you have the freedom to be a crazy killer, right? I suppose you want more insane people with guns, right? You want more incidences to occur like the tragedy in Tucson? Oh, you make the claim the freedom of gun ownership, but not everyone is defensive. We MUST guard against those that go on the offense and you've got no idea how to do that, do you?

Either way, you lose, whether a killer does so for political purposes or whether the shooter is just plain nuts. Let’s say the killer is simply a schizo. How expensive do you think it has been to clean up from the Tucson Massacre? It’s gotta be pretty expensive if you figure in emergency services, medical attention, and all the bad publicity, right. Yet YOUR illustrious Republican Guvnor Idiot Brewer has cut funding for the seriously mentally ill. I can guarantee you that it would have been much cheaper to enable prevention than cleanup. And even more lives can be spared by trying to keep firearms out of the hands of those with unstable mental capacities.

Who knows? Maybe one of them crazies with a gun may take a shot at you someday, huh?

Sirsten27
Sirsten27

As far as the difference between so called "upstate" New York and New York City, I just want to remind my fellow New Yorkers on this blog that the city dwellers would be more than happy to cecede from the state and have our own city state. We are sick and tired of carrying the rest of you. Your economy without us would be similar to that of Mississippi so if you want to seperate please let your state representatives know. I sure as hell do every election.

Sirsten27
Sirsten27

My only question is, why is it so important for you to carry or own a weapon anywhere outside of a rural area?

Mike, New York

Asdf
Asdf

In writing "The last two sentences are key in showing an arbitrariness to the system. Bureaucrats decide you "lack character and fitness" for the license, and your privilege of owning a handgun disappears."

Mr. Stern has demonstrated he is either a fool or a liar. Either he doesn't understand the meaning of the word arbitrary and the litigation history concerning "character and fitness," and is thereby a fool, or he simply a liar.

By articulating the standards he quotes, the "beaucrats" have established guidelines, and with guidelines you do not have arbitrary decisions. Further, the character and fitness requirement applies not just to gun ownership, but to many other aspects of life as well. Many professions (but clearly not journalism) require character and fitness reviews. Is the constitutional right to freedom of association (choosing your career) less valuable than the right to bear arms? Of course, as anyone not a fool or a liar knows, the issue of character and fitness can also be litigated, further reducing the risk of an arbitrary outcome.

Stern must know this, he's a self-proclaimed gun-nut. So why lie? Why the hyperbole and the theater-sissy drama? Because at the end of the day, he has no sincere, fact-driven argument to make.

He knows he wants a gun, and he's seeking a way to justify why his desire trumps your safety.

Dennis Gilman
Dennis Gilman

Ray,

You're a pretty good writer and probably a real swell guy, but if you ever pull your gun on me I'll take it from you and beat the living piss out of you with it.

Have a nice day.

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Wil
Wil

My neighbor, an 86 year old WWII vet, got a knock on the door from a detective who said he didn't send in his renewal fee for his rifle permit and wanted to take his shotgun. Never ever allow legislators to impose renewable permits or force registration. Some future session of Looters and Destroyers will know who to go to during confiscation sweeps. On a related note, NYC gun laws is another reason for more enlightened states not to support any federal bailout of the city's budget, muni-bonds or its pension.

Falconnier
Falconnier

The writer conflates New York City with the rest of New York as a whole. And he's wrong.There is NO registration of long guns outside of New York. And except for a few specific counties, there is NO yearly fee.

The writer needs to do his homework, and revise the article. Otherwise, he sounds like an ignorant boob.

justaguy
justaguy

Most people don't understand that New York CITY isn't representative of New York STATE when it comes to gun laws. Much like Philadelphia isn't representative of Pennsylvania and Chicago isn't representative of Illinois. Outside of NYC, we enjoy a few more freedoms. Our pistol permits are good for life, unless revoked. Most counties are effectively "shall issue" counties, albeit some counties have restrictions. The cost of a pistol permit is generally less than 25% of what it is in NYC. We also don't have to register our long guns, nor are we subject to the same ludicrous regulations about ammunition storage. Granted, we're not quite like Arizona, New Hampshire, or the other free states. We still have an "assault weapons" ban in place that limits us to 10-round magazines and prevents our long guns from looking too scary.

Most of us in "upstate" New York also abhor the New York City-area "leaders" that are continuously chipping away at our freedoms and trying to turn us into a nanny state. These people are the likes of Carolyn McCarthy, Michael Bloomberg, and Chuck Schumer.

Please don't lump all of New York state together.

Loosecannonsbluesband
Loosecannonsbluesband

As looting intensified in New Orleans, Mayor Nagin orders most of the police to abandon search and rescue missions for survivors and focus on packs of looters who are becoming increasingly violent. The AP reported, "Police officers were asking residents to give up any guns they had before they boarded buses and trucks because police desperately needed the firepower."

This bruhaha prompted the passage of the Disaster Recovery Personal Protection Act, to prohibit federal funding for the confiscation of legally held firearms during a disaster. The bill became law in September 2006, with the amendment modified to allow for the temporary surrender of a firearm as a condition for entering a rescue or evacuation vehicle. Thus, the law prevents the federal government from assisting in the confication of guns EXCEPT for the TEMPORARY surrender of a firearm.

Is this the "confiscation" you are talking about Bugger?

There are going to be times when the people who are supposed to protect us get confused and do things they aren't supposed to do. Exhibit for this witness: Thomas, Arpaio, Hendershot, Fox. The illegal activity conducted by law enforcement which DID occur in New Orleans was not a widespread occurrence and certainly could not be classified as a "Sweep."

Try again, this time lie a little better.

Metal
Metal

One lone gunman in Arizona vs. A city of gang bangers that does nothing but shoot each other. People in Bed Stuy, Brownsville, Red Hook, and other interior portions of Brooklyn and Queens live with gunshots ringing through the air daily, so for a city that is good at disarming the law abiding public has no effect on the criminal elements (and their guns).

H2O
H2O

I really wish the city of NY would cecede, you can dig your own wells and produce your own water, we'll gladly take our body of water(s) back and let you drink raw sewage.

Metal
Metal

Uh, I would say 25% of your city is on welfare, so put a cork in it.

RUCrazy
RUCrazy

Go take a midnight stroll to Harlem and take in a show at the Apollo, then take a leisurely walk around the neighborhood and take in the sights.

Ray Stern
Ray Stern

Mike -- Because I'm not one of those people who always have to rely on other people to solve my problems.

Ray Stern
Ray Stern

Complete crap. Any test of "character" must be somewhat arbitrary. Duh. And I was pointing the last TWO sentences, the first of which says "this list is not exclusive." That also implies arbitrariness in the system. I'm using the dictionary definition of the word "arbitrary," particularly the one that reads, "based on or subject to individual judgment or preference." Determining someone's "character" isn't like doing a math problem -- it's going to come down to someone's whim.

Ray Stern
Ray Stern

From your description of your super-human abilities, it sounds like bullets would just bounce off your chest, anyway!

ExpertShot
ExpertShot

"Confiscation sweeps"? What kind of nut job are you?

If the political situation in this country ever got to the point where the government was able to conduct a gun confiscation sweep, you'd know that it was coming well in advance. With one in every three households owning a gun, that would require far more manpower than the entire U.S. Military and every law enforcement agency would be able to muster. With over 233 millions private guns in the US, to think that such a sweep would be able to occur all at once, thus making the US Populace defenseless, is utter nonsense!

And to think that the arms the US Populace carry would defend them in an attack by the government, think again.

The population of Iraq was well armed while Saddam Hussein was in power, and this failed to either oust him from power, or prevent him from committing genocide. Widespread gun ownership in Iraq was a cause of concern to American military planners prior to the invasion of the country

Ray Stern
Ray Stern

There were a couple of places in the article where I added "City" as a clarification. Thanks for the implication that, with this revision, I no longer sound like an ignorant boob.

NYGun
NYGun

NY State is bad, it takes 6+ months to get a pistol license, when in reality it is done in a week, they just delay the process hoping you do something in which they can deny you in that timeframe.

Sirsten27
Sirsten27

Please let your state rep. Know that you do not want New York City to be part od New York State any longer. The "city dwellers" are tired of paying for your welfare anyway.

nancarrow7
nancarrow7

@H2O LOL I wish I could double and triple "like" your reply.

Glock
Glock

Agree, you pass a NICS check, that's it. 1/2 the NYPD are mentally ill or alcoholics, who are they to determine as to who should exercise a right.

Asdf
Asdf

"Thanks for the implication that, with this revision, I no longer sound like an ignorant boob."

Snarkiness and logical fallicy are just two of the many reasons you come off like an ignorant boob.

Did you have to be an ass? Just because you were shown to be wrong on your facts is no reason to behave like a 12-year-old jerk.

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