Changes to New York Gun Laws

Gun legislation in New York can be quite punitive. Most gun offenses are felonies and have serious penalties if you are convicted. If you want to know more about changes to New York gun laws, speak with a knowledgeable gun attorney that could answer your questions.

Changes in Gun Legislation That Have Occurred

Approximately seven years ago there were some slight changes to New York gun laws. In the past, if a person was caught with an unloaded gun, it was a Class A Misdemeanor, but they amended that and added a charge to the penal law of criminal possession of a firearm which is an E–felony.

Therefore, if someone is caught with a gun, regardless of where it is, and what the police infer that the person intended to do with it, they can be charged and indicted as a felony. This course of events is indicative of the city's view of the seriousness of guns. They have gone out of their way to make all gun possession a felony charge.

How Recent Changes to New York Gun Laws Relate to the National Conversation on Guns?

Gun ownership, gun possession, and Second Amendment rights, have been the topic of conversation for decades.  People are very strong advocates on both sides, and in New York, that dichotomy is very clear. Outside of New York City, there is a healthy percentage of the population that are gun owners and there is not a tremendous amount of gun violence, so there is not as great a need to strictly regulate gun ownership.

But inside the Five Boroughs, there is an unhealthy amount of gun violence which necessitates the need for strict gun enforcement. In terms of the national conversation, New York City is obviously on the side of more regulation and more changes to New York gun laws. These changes would be enacted to make it more difficult for individuals to get their hands on guns because New York City has a gun problem. Guns are being used to commit acts of violence, homicides, robberies, burglaries, and other serious violent felonies. Outside of New York City, it is not as big an issue. New York City is a very, very large metropolitan area; a trendsetter for this national conversation. Therefore, New York is looked at in terms of the national debate on gun control as kind of a paradigm of what to do about guns.

How Prosecutors Might Begin to Treat Gun Charges Differently

The way that things are currently going in New York City, it is hard to imagine that prosecutors will start getting laxer about prosecuting gun cases unless there is a real significant drop-off in gun violence and homicides. While the homicide rate in New York is lower than it has been in a long time, and has been dropping since the '90s, the fact is that most homicides (while there are fewer homicides) still occur with gun violence in certain boroughs.

Ways Gun Laws Could Change in the Future

Gun violence is still an issue. The District Attorneys' Offices and the Police Departments are still trying to combat it in any way they can. Stricter punishments and more serious prosecutions for gun cases are sure to evolve, and there is always the caveat that there will always be some sort of mitigating factors involved. A person who gets caught with a gun while on parole or probation for a violent offense, has 35 arrests on their record, and has committed crimes of violence in the past, is going to be treated more harshly than a kid who gets arrested for the first time with an unloaded gun in his backpack.

There is always going to be a spectrum of how these cases are handled but, overall they are looking at trends. These cases will be dealt with more harshly as gun violence continues to persist, despite the District Attorneys' Offices taking steps to combat it with more serious penalties. An experienced gun lawyer could help defend an individual, regardless of the changes to New York gun laws that occur. If an individual has been charged with a gun offense, it is imperative that they work with a qualified attorney that could build their case.