Maybe a loved one worked in law enforcement or served in the military. Perhaps your grandfather just liked to collect unusual or rare firearms. It is not uncommon for firearms to be part of an estate, especially when those firearms are old, rare, or hold sentimental value to the original owner, heir or the family as a whole. Unfortunately for some people, those treasured family heirlooms could cause a host of legal issues. Just because your dad, uncle, grandfather or friend owned a certain firearm doesn’t mean it was legal for that person, or for you, to possess that weapon.
Even if all you ever do is display the firearm in a locked case, you could end up facing serious criminal charges for owning it. Law enforcement could come to your home for a completely unrelated incident, such as an attempted burglary or a noise complaint. Then, suddenly, you’re under arrest and facing a serious weapons charge.
Even if you never handled, fired or intended to use that weapon, it’s possible that owning it is a violation of New York state or New York City laws. If you or someone you love has inherited a firearm, you may want to speak with an attorney before putting it in storage or on display.
The Second Amendment doesn’t cover everything
For those who live in New York City, there are more restrictions on firearms than there are in other areas of the state. For example, if you inherit a shotgun or rifle, you may think you don’t need a license. After all, you aren’t intending to carry it in your vehicle or on your person. You probably won’t even clean or maintain it, if it is just an heirloom. That doesn’t mean you can just lock it in a display case and forget it. New York City requires permits for purchasing these weapons and also put limitations on the style and power of the firearms you can legally own.
Any weapon classified as an assault rifle or any “large capacity ammunition feeding device” must be specially registered. Certain antique firearms, such as muzzle-loaded weapons and those with a flintlock or similar firing mechanisms get exempted from licensing requirements, so long as they are unloaded. Accidentally violating New York’s gun laws could result in a serious felony charge.
Be sure you comply with the law
If you have recently inherited or been gifted a firearm, it is probably in your best interest to speak with an experienced New York criminal defense attorney. Your lawyer can help ensure that you are in compliance with state and city laws in how you handle and store your new firearms.