Federal law requires firearms dealers to obtain a license from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), although resource limitations prevent the ATF from properly overseeing all its licensees.
New York law requires those who engage “in the business of purchasing, selling, keeping for sale, loaning, leasing, or in any manner disposing of, any assault weapon, large capacity ammunition feeding device, pistol or revolver” to obtain a state license in order to conduct business.1 Applications must be submitted in the city or county where the business is located.2 Applicants go through the same background check process as those seeking to carry or possess handguns (see Licensing of Gun Owners in New York). New York does not require sellers of long guns only (rifles and shotguns) to obtain a state license.
A firearms dealer license must describe the premises for which it is issued, be valid in that location and be displayed prominently on the premises.3 A licensed dealer may conduct business temporarily at a gun show or event sponsored by any organization devoted to the collection, competitive use or other sporting use of firearms, however.4 A firearms dealer license is valid for up to three years from the date of issuance.5
New York law also requires that licensed firearms dealers, as members of the gun industry, “establish and utilize reasonable controls and procedures to prevent” firearms and ammunition “from being possessed, used, marketed or sold unlawfully in New York state.”6 “Reasonable controls and procedures” are defined as “policies that include, but are not limited to: (a) instituting screening, security, inventory and other business practices to prevent thefts of qualified products as well as sales of qualified products to straw purchasers, traffickers, persons prohibited from possessing firearms under state or federal law, or persons at risk of injuring themselves or others; and (b) preventing deceptive acts and practices and false advertising.”7 Violations of this law can be enforced by the state Attorney General, a city corporation counsel, or a private person, firm, corporation or association harmed as a result of the violation.8
Beginning on December 3, 2022, licensed gun dealers must implement a security plan for securing firearms kept on their premises. The plan must satisfy at least the following requirements:
- All firearms must be secured, other than during business hours, in a locked fireproof safe or vault on the dealer’s business premises or in a secured and locked area on the dealer’s business premises; and
- Ammunition must be stored separately from firearms and out of reach of customers.
The dealer’s business premises must be secured by a security alarm system that is installed and maintained by a licensed security alarm operator. The security alarm system must be capable of being monitored by a central station, and must provide, at a minimum, complete protection and monitoring for all accessible openings, and partial motion and sound detection at certain other areas of the premises. The dealer location must, additionally, be equipped with a video recording device at each point of sale and each entrance and exit to the premises, which must be recorded from both the indoor and outdoor vantage point. The dealer must maintain such recordings for a period of not less than two years.9
Every dealer must exclude all persons under 18 years of age from those portions of its premises where firearms are stocked or sold, unless such person is accompanied by a parent or guardian.10
Dealers and their employees, who must be at least 21-years-of-age, who sell firearms must take a training course developed by the Superintendent of State Police in the conduct of firearm transfers that includes, at a minimum, instruction on:11
- Federal and state laws governing firearm transfers.
- How to recognize, identify, respond, and report straw purchases, illegal purchases, and fraudulent activity.
- How to recognize, identify, respond, and report an individual who intends to use a firearm, rifle, or shotgun for unlawful purposes, including self-harm.
- How to prevent, respond, and report theft or burglary of firearms and ammunition.
- How to educate customers on rules of gun safety, including but not limited to the safe handling and storage of firearms, rifles, shotguns and ammunition.
- Such other topics the superintendent deems necessary and appropriate.
Every dealer must establish and maintain a physical or electronic-based record of purchase, sale, inventory, and other records at the dealer’s place of business as required by the Superintendent, and must submit a copy of such records to the State Police every April and October. Such records shall at a minimum include the following:
- The make, model, caliber or gauge, manufacturer’s name, and serial number of all firearms that are acquired or disposed of not later than one business day after their acquisition or disposition. Monthly backups of these records kept in a book shall be maintained in a secure container designed to prevent loss by fire, theft, or flood. If the dealer chooses to maintain an electronic-based record system, those records must be backed up on an external server or over the internet at the close of each business day;
- All firearms acquired but not yet disposed of must be accounted for through an inventory check prepared once each month and maintained in a secure location;
- Firearm disposition information, including the serial numbers of firearms, rifles and shotguns sold, dates of sale, and identity of purchasers, shall be maintained and made available at any time to government law enforcement agencies and to the manufacturer of the weapon or its designee; and
- Every dealer must maintain records of criminal firearm traces initiated by the ATF. All ATF Form 4473 transaction records shall be retained on the dealer’s business premises in a secure container designed to prevent loss by fire, theft, or flood.12
Dealers must be inspected by the State Police not less than once every three years, during regular and usual business hours. Dealers must provide the State Police with full access to such dealer’s premises for such inspections.
The Superintendent also must prepare an annual report providing information on the number of dealers inspected annually, the number of dealers in compliance with the requirements of this article, the number of dealers failing to comply with the requirements of this article, and other information that the Superintendent deems necessary and appropriate. The first report must be delivered to the governor, the majority leader of the senate and the speaker of the assembly, and shall be made available to the public on the division of State Police website, on or before January 1, 2024 and annually thereafter.13
For information about the New York law:
• Liability for failure to establish and utilize reasonable controls and procedures, see Gun Industry Immunity in New York.
• Requiring a locking device to accompany the sale of a firearm, see Locking Devices in New York.
• Limiting sales of ammunition, see Ammunition Regulation in New York.
• Requiring federally licensed dealers to conduct background checks on firearm purchasers, see Background Checks in New York.
• Requiring dealers to maintain records of sales, see Retention of Sales / Background Check Records in New York.
• Involving dealers’ obligations regarding New York’s “Combined Ballistic Identification System,” see Microstamping/Ballistic Identification in New York.
• Applicable to both licensed and private firearm sellers, see Private Sales in New York.
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- N.Y. Penal Law §§ 265.00(9), 400.00(2).
- N.Y. Penal Law § 400.00(3).
- N.Y. Penal Law § 400.00(7), (8).
- N.Y. Penal Law § 400.00(8).
- N.Y. Penal Law § 400.00(10).
- N.Y. Gen. Bus. Law § 898-b(2).
- N.Y. Gen. Bus. Law § 898-a(2).
- N.Y. Gen. Bus. Law §§ 898-d, 898-e.
- N.Y. Gen. Bus. Law § 875-b.
- N.Y. Gen. Bus. Law § 875-c.
- N.Y. Gen. Bus. Law § 875-e.
- N.Y. Gen. Bus. Law § 875-f.
- N.Y. Gen. Bus. Law § 875-g.