How to Get a BB Gun License in NYC

Understanding the nuances of acquiring a BB gun license in New York City can be challenging. This article delves into the legislative intricacies and requirements to help you navigate the process.

Permits and Licensing

In New York City, the licensing of firearms, including BB guns, is overseen by the NYPD License Division. They are responsible for screening applications and issuing licenses. Additionally, permits for sound amplification devices are usually granted by the local precinct, while parade permits are reviewed by the NYPD and organized by the Mayor’s Office of Citywide Event Coordination and Management.

Firearms Licensing in NYC

Legality of Airsoft and BB Guns

Under the New York City Administrative Code 10-131(b), it is illegal to possess airsoft guns, BB guns, or similar air guns without the proper licensing. Any breach of this code can lead to arrest and charges. If one is caught with an airsoft gun lacking bright neon coloring, which makes it appear as a real weapon, they can also be charged with possessing an imitation weapon—a misdemeanor.

Differences between NYC and New York State

It’s vital to distinguish between the regulations of New York City and New York State. Outside of NYC, one can legally possess an airsoft gun or similar air pistol as the state law does not prohibit them.

Constitutional Issues

There have been instances where constitutional rights have been infringed upon in air pistol cases. For instance, if the police recover an airsoft gun without proper warrant or probable cause, the owner’s constitutional rights could be violated.

Are Airsoft Pistols Firearms?

The definition of “firearm” under New York Penal Law can be ambiguous. While initially, an air pistol might be perceived as a “pistol” and hence a firearm, court cases such as People v. Schmidt and People v. Wilson have clarified that air pistols aren’t firearms.

Although airsoft and BB guns are illegal without appropriate licensing in NYC, the penalties for possessing them are significantly lower than for traditional firearms. With a proficient criminal defense lawyer, charges related to BB guns can often be reduced, allowing the accused to steer clear of a criminal record or jail time.

New York City’s Stance on Air Guns

New York City explicitly prohibits the possession or sale of any air pistol or rifle without the necessary license. However, licensed dealers can sell these weapons if they deliver them outside the city, or if the buyer has a valid license. Moreover, using air pistols at a licensed amusement venue or shooting range is allowed.

Record Keeping

Air pistol or rifle dealers in NYC are mandated to maintain records of each sale, including the name, address of the purchaser, and place of delivery. Such records must be accessible to the police department during regular business hours.

Key Legislative Elements

  • Strict Limits: NYC imposes rigid restrictions on the possession and sale of non-powder guns.
  • Definition as Firearms: For comprehensive control, all non-powder guns can be defined as firearms. This ensures restrictions on sales to minors, felons, and other prohibited purchasers.
  • Transfer through Licensed Dealer: High-power and large caliber non-powder guns should be transferred through a licensed dealer, with all transfers reported to law enforcement.
  • Registration: Owners of high-power and large caliber non-powder guns should have a registration mechanism.
  • Minors: Minors should be prohibited from possessing non-powder guns unless supervised by an adult.


1. Can I possess a BB gun or airsoft pistol in other parts of New York State without a license?

Yes, outside of New York City, you can legally possess a BB gun or an airsoft pistol as the New York State Penal Law doesn’t specifically prohibit their possession.

2. What happens if my airsoft gun looks like a real weapon in NYC?

If your airsoft gun lacks bright neon coloring, making it resemble a real weapon, you could be charged with possessing an imitation weapon. This is considered a misdemeanor under the New York City Administrative Code.

3. How can I legally sell a BB gun or airsoft pistol in NYC?

You can legally sell these items in NYC if you’re a licensed dealer. However, you must either deliver the gun to a location outside of NYC or ensure the purchaser has an appropriate license. Dealers are also required to maintain detailed records of each sale, accessible to the NYPD during regular business hours.


Acquiring a BB gun license in NYC requires a comprehensive understanding of the city’s regulations. To stay within the confines of the law, ensure you adhere to the licensing requirements and consult with an experienced lawyer if faced with charges.

Harrison Baxter
Latest posts by Harrison Baxter (see all)

Leave a Comment