Is It *Really* Impossible To Get A Gun License in NYC? (Part I)

If you ask a random person living in NYC how hard it is to get a gun license, they will probably tell you that if you want a license to carry a gun, you have to be a cop, work as a security guard, or “know someone” (i.e., be rich and have donated to the right politician or organization).  The thing is, I couldn’t find anyone who didn’t fit into one of those categories who had actually tried, and in light of semi-recent Supreme Court rulings that the 2nd Amendment is an individual right, not limited to “militias,” I figured it was about time to put it to the test.

What you need to apply for a NYC gun license — to start!

I gathered all the forms together, went down to “1 Police Plaza” — the NYPD headquarters in lower Manhattan, and was promptly told I could not apply because I didn’t have an ID card issued by the New York DMV.  Apparently a Florida driver’s license, a social security card, and a U.S. passport were insufficient to prove who I am, even though all of those are sufficient to get the New York DMV to give me an ID card.

But, no problem.  A New York ID lasting for 8 years turns out to be a $12 investment.  My complete, “accepted” (as in, they were willing to consider it) application is pictured above: 1 three-page application, 1 letter of necessity, 1 letter explaining any checkboxes you may have checked that need explanation (Ever had a speeding ticket?  That needs to be explained!), 1 letter from your roommate approving of your license or an affidavit that you have no roommate (My 2nd Amendment rights are contingent on my roommate’s permission?), 1 affidavit from someone willing to take possession of my guns if I die, 2 photos, 1 New York ID, 1 U.S. passport, 1 social security card, and $429.75.  Oh, and a copy of my business tax return.

Business tax return?  In order to apply to carry a firearm in New York City, you must provide a business reason.  This seems likely to be ruled unconstitutional if challenged today in light of the new Supreme Court rulings, but I happen to run a business for which I have the necessity to get a gun license: I am a civil rights advocate, I need a license to exercise my civil rights, and thanks to your donations over the last 5+ years, I file a business tax return annually.

The application also asks a lot of extremely personal and seemingly irrelevant questions.  Have you ever been fired from a job?  Taken a sedative medication or pain killer (you’re checking yes if you’ve ever had surgery)?  Testified before Congress?  The NYPD wants to know.  If your answer to any of the above is yes, add that to your explanation form next to your speeding ticket explanation.  For all of these questions, I checked no box and explained on the form that I refuse to answer because they are irrelevant.

But, apparently that’s good enough to get the app in processing.  After everything is paid for, fingerprints are taken (included in that $429.75 fee, which, by the way, is non-refundable if you are denied a license, and lasts for only 2 years assuming you do).  A few days later (shockingly promptly), I get a letter from the officer assigned to examine my case:

Corbett Gun License App Reply (.pdf)

The reply is a request for *25* more documents that the NYPD needs to complete my application.  Some of the highlights include:

  • 3 letters of recommendation, notarized and signed by people who know you for at least 5 years but are not family members
  • The original court records for any of those speeding tickets you listed on your application
  • A letter from your doctor describing your mental illness (funny, since I checked “no” on the “is a doctor treating you for a mental illness” box on the app)
  • 6 months of bank withdrawal slips
  • Pictures of your business, inside and out
  • A whole lot of tax records

I’m really good at paperwork, so I compiled everything (or explained why I cannot, or will not, be getting them a particular document).  The letter says that once I do that, I should call Police Officer Thomas Barberio.

So I called.  And I called.  And I called…


No less than 10 times on 7 different days.  Officer Barberio is, it seems, never around.  So I sent a fax.  No reply.

For Part II of my journey, I head back to 1 Police Plaza to see if we can find Officer Barberio or his supervisor.  Stay tuned.

Fighting for civil rights in court is expensive!  Want to contribute to the fight against government assholery? Donate via PayPal, Venmo, Chace QuickPay, Bitcoin, or check

46 thoughts on “Is It *Really* Impossible To Get A Gun License in NYC? (Part I)

Add yours

  1. Are you kidding me? This paperwork circus so needs to be challenged. I think I know someone with the tenacity to do so… 🙂

  2. The fact that you wasted a good sum of money to get a license you obviously do not need, and further wasted hundreds of hours filing out needless forms, means you obviously have a mental condition and therefore need your doctor to check you out.

    1. Someone needs to challenge this NYC nonsense in the Supreme Court because the city is likely violating the law at this point. It’s one thing to have strict gun laws, it’s another thing to keep someone from exercising a right in the constitution. There’s something called “excessive barriers of an ability to exercise a right” which I think this definitely is diving into.

      The city either needs to 100% make handguns illegal, or allow me to exercise this right. They know that if they made them 100% illegal someone WOULD take that to court, so this paperwork and nonsense is just a way of skirting around the issue. They want handguns to be illegal but can’t just come out and say they’re illegal so this is a loophole the city has to try and make them illegal since your ability to exercise the right is prohibitively expensive, and almost impossible.

      Do you want to make guns totally illegal? Then a Supreme Court case can decide to what extent the 2nd Amendment applies and whether or not the City is violating that, this really needs to go to the Supreme Court so they can make a final decision, or states need to amend the constitution by 2/3rds. Either way they need to stop skirting around the issue.

      1. This is also a way of keeping a list of people who are trying to obtain a gun. If you take away the process of obtaining one by making guns outlawed you don’t have a list of people they obviously assume are up to no good. Plus look at all the info they have about you at the tip of there finger after the process.

  3. Why did you try to get a license?
    If it was for the people, wouldn’t saying you didn’t own a business benefit like 90% of others who don’t?

    There’s many things that need to be challenged here.
    I am thankful for your efforts though.

    1. The reason I played along with their business requirement is that I can only challenge so much at once. If I can get just one or two of the unreasonable requirements thrown out, even if I don’t get all of them thrown out, that’s a huge success.

  4. 6 months of ATM withdrawal? I’m supposed to get receipts and keep them every time I get cash back? That’s absolute garbage.

    Here you take a class, get fingerprints, pay a fee, get your permit.

  5. Perhaps I’ll direct my friends in infamous Australia to this article, and maybe one of them will try to get a handgun license in Australia, just to see if maybe it’s easier!

  6. You sound like an arrogant asshole, you probably end up shooting someone so hopefully they’ll denied you!

    1. I think you need to get enough of an education so that people like Mr. Corbett don’t sound like “arrogant assholes” anymore. But, of course, someone who’d call a person like Mr. Corbett an “arrogant asshole” without giving even the slightest reason as to why (most likely because he’s so good at explaining and justifying extremely sensible things you don’t like that you can’t formulate a reply that will sound any better than “you probably end up shooting someone”) is unlikely to be interested in getting enough of an education to understand people like Mr. Corbett in the first place.

      You haven’t explained your thoughts. That’s why it doesn’t matter what you think.

  7. This is why I will never move back to NYC. I have 3 combat tours. And am active duty. When I decided to get my permit I did it online put in the paperwork 5 bucks and got a call from the Sheriff’s department. I went picked up my 5 permits and have purchased 3 guns in the last two weeks. Oh and since NC is an open carry state I walk around with a glock 17 on my hip. Yes I have been arrested in my youth. Yes I have traffic tickets in my past. But I still have my 2nd ammendment right to carry and thankfully this state allows it. Fuck NYC it’s a shit hole full of shit people anywyas.

      1. When it comes to respecting our Enumerated Rights, NYC has met that description since 1911, when they passed the Sullivan Act to keep Irish immigrants (and blacks, Italians and Jews) from buying guns.

        “Tools” are the people defending such acts.

  8. Thanks goodness I live in a pro-carry state. I applied online, scanned in a photo of my driver’s license, and 3 days later received an email saying my permit was ready do be picked up at the Sheriff’s Department. Walked in, paid my $10 fee and got my permit which is good for 1 year, but for a bigger fee it is good for up to 5 years.

    And a few years ago my state passed an open carry law which means as long as I have a CCP I don’t even have to conceal it, but I do because IMHO if a lunatic starts shooting people he/she will start with anyone he/she might happen to notice wearing his/her weapon in open view.

    I honestly would not live in a city or state that doesn’t want law biding citizens to have a weapon for self defense. I a “literalist” and as such believe that “shall not be infringed” means exactly what it says, and i don’t think the 2nd amendment had as much to do with personal defense as Iit did with being a defense against a government that becomes tyrannical
    Good luck with what you’re trying to do brother, so in that respect I think if a policeman or soldier can carry it then I should be able to carry it as well….unimpeded by regulations and fees.

    Good luck with what you are trying to achieve!!!

  9. I think this guy is doing an important public service. Excepting the exorbitant fee he’s a reviewer. The trip reviewer the restaurant reviewer. This is an objective view of the barriers to getting a gun license in nyc. Gun control Doesnt work. If it worked it’d work everywhere it’s implemented. America has created ghettos of family dissolution and violence and all you hear of are random crazies and people who hunt but as a group are much less likely to perpetrate violence. There are countries with low violence and high gun ownership and vice versa. Conclude there are cultural and I feel preventable issues at play. But in the end criminals will get guns because the government dopes refuse to harshly prosecute straw buyers. Bravo big time to the author here.

  10. We have 8 million people in this city and one of the lowest crime rates out of any mega city in the world. We don’t need guns. But it’s entertaining to see some gun loving southerner think he can come here and scream 2nd Amendment rights and be entitled to a firearm. That’s cute.

    1. > But it’s entertaining to see some gun loving southerner…

      I was born in New York, grew up there, and I’m still a part-year resident and taxpayer.

      > …think he can come here and scream 2nd Amendment rights and be entitled to a firearm

      Yeah, it’s almost like I expect our constitutional rights will apply in all 50 states. What a dick I am, right?

      1. high five @ johnathan corbett. thank you for standing up for your rights, New York just wants to be a police state and tell the public how to be sheep and not stand up for yourself. true no one needs a gun in New York. but that should not be a reason to make the pistol permit impossible to obtain. i’m not looking to own a gun in New York, i just would like to go out to the shooting range every now and then and shoot. I’m also a native New Yorker born and bred, still a resident of the city for the last 37 years.

  11. I’m a public figure well mainly notorious figure whose had his life threatend over 20 times on social media, I am a former NYC police man that worked undercover in NYC since I didn’t do my twenty years I wasn’t granted a retired permit .
    I was pretty good at what I did , protected people and kept the city safe mostly because of all my arrests which led to s lot of over time mostly to go to crt o was departly sentenced to sit in a mission box for 3 months so 9 and 1/2 hours o watched the Cuban mission from s phone box
    My point is for all the right reasons to obtain a carry permit with all the proper training and excelled at my job I received 4 declines through the constant submissions I ran out of money and the thing that Jamed me up was the police department would not release my jacket to 1 PP for review haaa cost s lot and I was challenging a lost cause so now o live in the village and teach dance

  12. Do you remember the dialogue that came about when one of the officers refused to enter a school building during a shooting until after backup arrived? Some people called him a coward while others defended him, but what was really interesting was the conversation about whether or not he was obligated to enter. Turns out, he was not. Police are not inherently there to protect us, but to uphold the law, and only when their lives are not in danger. To me, this means the individual should maintain all necessary power to protect themselves from a rational threat with like force. Now there are plenty of heroes that deserve admiration for putting their lives on the line to protect others, but it should not be expected. How could someone EXPECT someone else to put them selves in harm’s way for a stranger. The answer is you shouldn’t.

  13. its funny i became a felon because i went and got a hand gun with no license… They try to put cops on a pedestal but they shoot each other in the line of duty as well as kill them selves, due to the pressures of life…. i made my choice… but i don’t think the punishment fits the crime…. in fact i don’t think its criminal to exercise my right to freedom as long as i am not hurting anybody

  14. In Vermont, I purchased a Highpoint 380 from a dealer in Florida. They sent it to a gun dealer close by in Vermont. When I went to pick it up and pay the $20 fee, he made a 30 second call to ascertain I was not a criminal and, and turned the gun over to me. It is unlikely I will ever need it, but if confronted by a rabid racoon or other, it is a valuable tool that could save a life or unnecessary medical expenses.

  15. Well it’s 2022 and the Supreme Court has ruled. Can’t wait to see what the NYPD clowns come up with to give law abiding citizens a hard time. Then I can’t wait to they are sued for violating the constitution and pay through their noses (hopefully NOT with tax payer money; which is what the defund thing was really all about).

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