New York, like other states, has its own criminal statutes that regulate the possession of guns. These offenses are generally found in Penal Law Article 265. While some have been on the books for decades, others are more recent additions. Two of these crimes, Penal Law 265.01-e, Criminal Possession of a Firearm, Rifle or Shotgun in a Sensitive Location, and 265.01-d, Criminal Possession of a Weapon in a Restricted Location, went into effect on September 1, 2022. Whether these class “E” felonies stand the test of time and legal challenges, criminal defense attorneys and everyday people residing in or visiting New York City, the Hudson Valley, or elsewhere in the state should have a basic understanding of these laws to best ensure they avoid arrest, prosecution, and as long as four years in prison.
NY Penal Law 265.01-e: Criminal Possession of a Firearm, Rifle or Shotgun in a Sensitive Location
If you possess one of the types of guns listed above while in or at a “sensitive location”, you are guilty of this offense as long as prosecutors can also prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you knew or should have reasonably known the particular location was one identified as “sensitive” as a matter of law. Whether there is signage or other notices, such locations include:
- Courts and similar locations under the administration of the government;
- Healthcare locations whether relating to physical health, mental health, or substance abuse;
- Places of worship regardless of religious denomination;
- Public spaces including libraries, playgrounds, parks, and zoos;
- Licensed sites or those approved by the Office of Children and Family Services serving children and young adults;
- Any licensed or regulated site funded by the Office for People with Disabilities, Office of Addiction Services and Supports, and Office of Mental Health;
- Schools and summer camps;
- Certain sites serving alcohol or cannabis;
- Any place or vehicle used for public transportation or public transit, including subways, trains, buses, ferries, and their respective stations or terminals.
- Locations used for performance and entertainment such as for gaming, sporting events, theaters, and museums;
- Any gathering of people exercising their constitutional rights to protest or assemble;
- Times Square in New York City
While not a verbatim nor full description of the locations deemed “sensitive”, these public places are not the only physical areas where the Penal Law prohibits firearm and other gun possession. Private spaces are also subject to regulation, albeit a different criminal code.
Penal Law 265.01-d Criminal Possession of a Weapon in a Restricted Location
Similar to its sibling statute, you are guilty of this felony offense if you possess a weapon or gun as described above and either enter or stay on or in private property. Further, in doing so you must know or you should reasonably know that the renter or owner of the property prohibits the possession of these weapons by signage that is both clear and conspicuous. The signage must indicate that carrying a weapons is permitted. Alternatively, the person authorized to allow for such possession must provide express consent.
Not a strict liability offense for anyone in possession, exceptions to this law include, for example, members of law enforcement, security guards, others permitted by statute who are engaged in their official duties, and those lawfully hunting.
Knowing the Law & Protecting Yourself
Setting aside what you may feel about the Second Amendment in terms of its scope, states are allowed to legislate certain guidelines and rules regarding their possession and use within their boundaries. As it stands now, even if you are authorized to possess certain guns, thereby preventing your arrest for the violent felony offense of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree, Penal Law 265.03 for example, both Criminal Possession of a Firearm, Rifle or Shotgun in a Sensitive Location and Criminal Possession of a Weapon in a Restricted Location are extremely serious crimes. Whether you are incarcerated for up to four years, sentenced to probation, or simply given a conditional discharge, you will be saddled with a criminal record in perpetuity upon conviction. Right or wrong, New York State does not allow for expungement and the collateral consequences to careers, licenses, and legal statuses can be as grave as they are enduring.
To educated yourself about New York Penal Law Article 265 crimes – from switchblades and brass knuckles to firearms and explosives – review the information available through the provided links. If you or a family member or friend is arrested at JFK or LaGuardia airports in Queens, in your vehicle after a traffic stop in Manhattan or Westchester County, or at a location addressed in this entry while in Brooklyn or elsewhere in the NYC metropolitan area, Saland Law has the experience and knowledge to protect you as the case unfolds and well into your future.
Saland Law is a criminal defense firm founded by Jeremy Saland, a former Manhattan prosecutor.