Article II of the United States Constitution succinctly establishes the right to bear arms: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” In New York State this has been translated into Penal Law section 400. Here you find the four considerations in obtaining a pistol permit. They are the applicant’s character, mental condition, history as offender, and “good cause”. It has long been settled that the State has a substantial and legitimate interest in insuring the safety of the general public. Individuals who have shown themselves to be lacking the essential temperament or character should not be entrusted with a dangerous instrument.
When seeking to obtain a “carry concealed” permit the burden is upon the applicant to demonstrate “proper cause.” This is an elusive standard and to the dismay of many it does not simply mean personal safety or even the requirement that you must transport large amounts of money.
A candid evaluation and statement of your reasons for seeking a pistol permit is the best method for securing the privilege to carry a gun. This is one of the few applications where your “arrest” record, as opposed to your “record of convictions” is required. Often you can expect the investigation phase of your application to span several months. Do not be surprised if the investigators contact your neighbors during the process. Having said this, do not be discouraged in your efforts to obtain a pistol permit. Basic information is available at local gun clubs, gun shops, the County Clerk’s office in your county and through the local bar association in your community.
The Penal Law places the determination to grant or deny a license in the hands of a licensing officer only after an investigation. The licensing officer is given considerable discretion and their decision will not be disturbed provided it is not arbitrary or capricious and the licensee is given an opportunity to be heard. This opportunity to be heard usually comes in the form of a post application letter or affidavit to the licensing officer, usually a judge in a court of record. In upstate New York this is typically the County Court Judge. In some counties an applicant may be afforded an actual hearing where sworn testimony is considered. Review of the decision goes to the Appellate Court in the Judicial Department from where the application is made.