Thursday, August 24, 2023

Upcoming Regulatory Shifts for Firearm Owners in New York State


Major updates are expected to occur soon in New York State's regulations on firearms and ammunition.

In the coming month, New York will transition from using the FBI for conducting National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) checks for firearms to letting the New York State Police handle all such background verifications. This shift is a result of legislation passed last year, which designated the state police as the responsible authority for these checks. 

The law requires the Superintendent of State Police to create a specialized bureau to carry out background checks for firearms and ammunition. The superintendent must inform all licensed firearms dealers within 60 days from July 15, 2023, that they must direct their background check requests to the state police. This implies that the new system should be functional by September 13, 2023.

In addition to firearms, the law also permits the state to impose fees for these background checks, based on the actual cost to the bureau for performing the service. Indications are that an additional $9 for firearms and $2.50 for ammunition will be charged for each transaction.

Simultaneously, another change is set to take place concerning background checks for ammunition sales, which originates from the 2013 SAFE Act. This regulation can only be enacted after the state police superintendent confirms that the databases for both firearms and ammunition background checks are fully operational. This is followed by a 30-day grace period.

This ammunition background check system was initially postponed because of a 2015 agreement that prevented state funds from being used for the database until a cost plan was approved. However, last year Governor Kathy Hochul announced the state would proceed with implementing the ammunition background check system, effectively disregarding the earlier agreement.

As of now, there is no official announcement confirming the databases are ready. Nonetheless, according to the NY State Police website, the new requirements for ammunition sales are expected to be in force by September 13, 2023.

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