New York’s Gun Culture

Who Owns Guns?
Almost 4.5 million people own guns in New York State, approximately 50,000 of whom are residents of New York City with pistol permits, which aren’t easy to obtain. City residents must also get a permit to purchase a shotgun.

How Do They Get Permits?
The application process throughout the state takes six to seven months to complete, and includes fingerprinting and an FBI background check. After that, there’s a four-hour class on firearm safety and an (open-book) written test. The city prohibits gun owners from buying more than one gun every three months. After buying five guns, the owner must purchase a safe.

How Many People Are Killed By Guns?
Gun deaths have dropped precipitously over the past decade. In 1993—a year before the assault-weapons ban was passed—there were 1,532 gun-related homicides in New York City. By 2002, the last year for which figures are available, that number had dropped to 365. Statewide, accidental gun deaths dropped from 40 a year to 21 over the past decade, which could explain the number of police chiefs and sheriffs in New York State who supported the ban: 75.

Will Assault Weapons Now Flood New York?
Depends on whom you talk to. State laws still prohibit ownership of all nineteen models that were banned under the federal law. The nearest place to buy a once-banned gun? Pennsylvania, though it is illegal for a firearms dealer there to sell a banned weapon to a New York resident. However, 80 percent of gun crimes in New York City are committed with firearms purchased in Virginia, North Carolina, and five other southern states collectively known as the Iron Pipeline.

What Is Manhattan’s Gun-Friendliest Locale?
Of the 3,637 firearms dealers in the state, the West Side Rifle and Pistol Range in Chelsea is the only gun retailer in Manhattan that also operates as a full-service shooting club. The club’s most popular gun: the Glock 19, a nine-millimeter semi-automatic ($595). Some groups within the club: Women on Target, the Lawyers Gun Club, and the Pink Pistols, a group of twelve gay men who don’t show up all that often. (“They don’t seem to be overly organized,” says owner Bob Derrig.) West Side Rifle’s busiest time of year: Valentine’s Day.

Who’s Packing Heat?
Taxi Driver star Robert De Niro is one of New York’s most famous gun owners, as is his friend Harvey Keitel. Others on the list include Arthur Ochs Sulzberger (a former Marine), Don Imus, Bill Cosby, Joan Rivers, Howard Stern, Tommy Mottola, and Donald Trump (just one pistol, says his spokeswoman, who didn’t know the make).

New York’s Gun Culture