In the eyes of the NRA, only three places in America “completely [prohibit] carrying firearms for personal protection outside the home or place of business”—the state of Illinois, the city of Washington, D.C., and New York City. Compare that to Alaska, Arizona, Vermont and Wyoming where you don’t even need a permit to carry a concealed weapon.
At least in New York, the NRA’s description is not quite true. According to court documents filed in 2011, the NYPD counts 31,000 active handgun licenses and 21,000 permits for shotguns and rifles.
But it is true that New York City has a rigorous review process for handgun permits. In Kentucky, a person wanting a concealed carry license for a handgun fills out a form at their local sherriff’s office, pays a $60 fee and takes a firearms safety course. As long as they haven’t committed a crime or been judged mentally defective, the applicants gets their permit. That’s because Kentucky is what’s known as a “shall issue” state, meaning the authorities grant applicants their concealed carry permit unless a specific reason surfaces for them not to, like a past criminal conviction.
In New York City, after you fill out the three-page application that, among other things, asks you to list your employment and residences over the past five years, turn in two affidavits, get someone to promise in writing to take charge of you weapons if you die or are incapacitated and pay $431.50 in fees, the police may issue a permit to keep a gun in your house or business, or even to carry it. Or they may not. Because New York is a “may issue” state, with permitting authority delegated to the counties, it’s up to local officials whether to give you a handgun license. As the NYPD puts it on its website: “If your investigation results in a determination that you lack character and fitness for a license or permit, your application will be denied.”