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New York law defines “gun show” as “an event sponsored, whether for profit or not, by an individual, national, state or local organization, association or other entity devoted to the collection, competitive use, sporting use, or any other legal use of firearms, rifles or shotguns.”1 The definition also includes an event at which:

  • Twenty percent or more of all exhibitors are firearms exhibitors;
  • Ten or more firearms exhibitors are participating;
  • Twenty-five or more handguns are offered for sale or transfer; or
  • Fifty or more firearms are offered for sale or transfer.

The term “gun show” includes any building, structure or facility where firearms are offered for sale or transfer and any grounds used in connection with the event.2

New York requires all firearms sales at gun shows to be processed by a licensed dealer.3 Prospective purchasers are subject to the same background check process that applies to retail firearm transfers and all dealers processing transactions must record the transfer, retain the transfer records for 10 years, and make the records available to law enforcement (see Retention of Background Check / Sales Records in New York).4 A person is criminally liable for a misdemeanor if he or she offers or agrees to transfer a firearm to another person at a gun show and then deliver the firearm at a location other than the gun show in order to evade compliance with the background check requirement.5

A licensed dealer is permitted to 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.6 Gun show operators are required to provide access to a licensed firearm dealer at gun shows for the purpose of completing background checks.7

Gun show operators must conspicuously post and maintain signs stating: “A National Instant Criminal Background Check must be completed prior to all firearm sales or transfers, including sales or transfers of rifles or shotguns.”8 Signs must be posted at all entrances to the gun show, at all places where admission tickets to the gun show are sold, and at not less than four additional locations within the grounds of the gun show.9 A gun show operator must notify exhibitors, in writing, that a National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”) check is required prior to all firearm transfers.10

In Scope, Inc. v. Pataki, 386 F. Supp. 2d 184 (W.D.N.Y. 2005), a group of gun association plaintiffs challenged New York’s gun show statutes on various constitutional grounds, including that they allegedly violate the: 1) due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, because the definition of “gun show” is vague; and 2) First Amendment because the definition of “gun show” is so broad that it declares any assembly of gun owners for any purpose a “gun show,” infringing on plaintiffs’ rights of lawful assembly and free speech and right to petition the government.

On the due process challenge, the court held that the definition of gun show in New York law was not vague.11 The court found that definition of “gun show” is not vague, but as to the First Amendment challenge, the court found the definition to be overbroad in its prohibitions, stating that the law “defines any gathering of a gun club to be a ‘gun show.’”12 Thus, the court found the definition to be unconstitutional.

New York now requires private sellers (sellers who are not federally licensed dealers) to have a background check conducted on a prospective purchaser before transferring any firearm, whether at gun shows or elsewhere. See the Private Sales in New York section for further information, including additional laws that may apply at gun shows.


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  1. N.Y. Gen. Bus. Law § 895[]
  2. Id.[]
  3. N.Y. Gen. Bus. Law §§ 896 and 897.[]
  4. N.Y. Gen. Bus. Law §§ 896 and 897.[]
  5. N.Y. Gen. Bus. Law § 897.[]
  6. N.Y. Penal Law § 400.00(8).[]
  7. N.Y. Gen. Bus. Law § 896(1)(c).[]
  8. N.Y. Gen. Bus. Law § 896(1)(a).[]
  9. Id.[]
  10. N.Y. Gen. Bus. Law § 896(1)(b).[]
  11. Scope, Inc., 386 F. Supp. 2d at 191.[]
  12. Scope, Inc., 386 F. Supp. 2d at 194-5.[]