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You, too, can own a handgun in New York! "Simply fill out these forms and return them with the broom of the wicked witch of the west - and don't call us...".

Today, the Morton Grove handgun ban is considered by most pro-gun advocates to be the apex of gun control fanaticism. This assumption is decidedly correct. Morton Grove's law is relatively simple and direct. With only a handful of exceptions, average, law-abiding citizens of this Chicago suburb are simply not permitted to legally own or possess handguns--period! There are no permits, there is no registration, and there is no provision for nonresidents traveling through the village of Morton Grove. Keeping a handgun in your home, car or place of business is no longer a legal option in this municipality.

Before Morton Grove enacted its law, the organized anti-gun groups in this country had often stated that their ultimate goal was not to ban handguns; all they wanted was to simply regulate (control) handguns. Actually, prior to Morton Grove, one of the main topics of debate (under the general heading of gun control) was just how far did the anti-gunners really want to go? Could they be believed whenever they claimed that the law-abiding gun owner had nothing to fear from them? Many gun owners, however, have known for quite some time that the organized anti-gun zealots are and always have been habitual liars. Yet, without some clear, simple and irrefutable example of the gun-grabber's true objective, many people (including an uncomfortably large number of gun owners) were inclined to give these unprincipled snake oil types the benefit of the doubt by accepting their propaganda, which falsely claimed they wanted only control and not confiscation. Then, in 1981, the Morton Grove Village Board of Trustees dropped the bomb. The force of the blast not only blew away the Second Amendment rights of the residents of this obscure Chicago suburb, it also cleared the air of the stench of anti-gun misinformation.

Like the beginning of a bitterly cold and still winter morning, the day following the passage of this contemptible ordinance provided a new crystalline clarity, enabling even the most apathetic and gullible among us to see the undeniable and simple truth. The ultimate goal, in fact, the very reason for the existence of the anti-gun movement in this nation is the elimination of all guns--not just their control. There can be no doubt about the true intent of these gun abolitionists now, because immediately following Morton Grove's obscentiy, the most prominent gun-control organizations around began a campaign to encourage as many cities and towns as possible to copy the insufferable ordinance. In fact, these same organizations helped to defend Morton Grove's ban in the courts.

It has been several years since the Stalinist trustees of that quaint little police state in America's heartland decided to prohibit the possession and ownership of handguns. The ban-the-gun bunch had hoped that this daring new tactic of coming out in the open with their true intentions would spur the imagination of every liberally minded governing body in the country. They figured that Morton Grove's bold move would inspire similar legislation all across America. Fortunately, this has not happened. Only two other Chicago suburbs have joined Morton Grove in its attempt to form a domestic version of the iron curtain. Throughout America, there have been other recent attempts to enact such laws, but these efforts have all been successfully rebuffed. It appears that the anti-gunners have made a miscalculation here; surely by now they must realize that for them, honesty is not the best policy!

I believe that in the coming months and years the anti-gunners are probably going to reemphasize their tried and true tactics of seeking to disarm America's law-abiding citizenry, primarily through confusing and oppressive controls. You must keep in mind the following: There are already a great many Americans who are not permitted to fully enjoy and in some cases are even prohibited from exercising their Second Amendment rights. These unfortunate citizens find themselves in this predicament not so much because of Morton Grove-type gun bans, but rather because of highly restrictive and enormously complex gun control laws. An outright ban forces the anti-gunners to come out in the open with their true intentions, while various control schemes allow them to bury their prohibitionist tendencies under layers of deceit and bureaucracy. In some American cities, the gun control situation is now so bad that the functional equivalent of a gun ban already exists.

Make no mistake about it, proposed Morton Grove-type bans are definitely of grave concern. If left unchallenged, their effect on your right to keep and bear ams would be catastrophic. However, I have found that it is somewhat easier to generate resistance to such total bans because the threat is clear and obvious. There is no room for confusion or for wondering what the ultimate effect of the legislation will be; everyone knows from the start that there is no middle ground. You either support the right to keep and bear arms or you favor a gunless society--period!

On the other hand, schemes that involve the likes of registration, permits, identification cards, coupons to purchase, fees, waiting periods, references, letters ofjustification, extensive background checks, etc., are what really worry me. These things eat away at your Second Amendment rights like a cancer, and, also like a cancer, they are extremely difficult to get rid of once they have rooted themselves deep into the bureaucracy of a governing body. Traditional gun control is a malignant disease that, if left unchecked, can produce a slow and painful death for our cherished Second Amendment. I would much rather fight an obvious enemy like Morton Grove than try to untangle the incredibly complex and redundant mountains of spaghetti known as the gun control laws of New York City.

The rest of this article will be devoted to an attempt to make some sense out of New York City's handgun control laws. This effort, at the very least, should clearly illustrate just how an anti-gun governing body can effectively deny you your Second Amendment rights without having to resort to an outright gun ban. I ask you to please bear with me, because not everything that you read from this point on will necessarily seem rational. Also, please do not consider anything in this exercixe to be legal advice. These laws and regulations are so complex and strange that trying to understand them is very much like trying to do your own income tax with a broken calculator. In fact, if H&R Block should decide to branch out into the gun law business, they could make a fortune in New York City.

In preparation of this task, I acquired the following reference materials: A copy of the New York City Police Department's Pistol License Application (complete with instructions), a recent edition of State Laws and Published Ordinances from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, a couple of pamphlets covering both New York State and New York City gun laws from the National Rifle Association, and a recent issue of MAD Magazine. In addition to the above, I also talked to several experts who claimed to have some understanding of how things are done in the Big Apple when it comes to handguns. Braced with all of this resource material, I locked myself in my study and went to work.

First, it is actually possible to legally own a handgun in New York City. But, in order to do so youhave to be willing to earn the privilege. By this I mean that you have to be prepared to participate in a process that can take anywhere from six months to two years. According to New York State law, your application for a handgun license is supposed to be resolved within six months, But in the past it has been a common practice for New York City to drag this process out well beyond the time limit. An informed source tells me, however, that New York City has recently improved in this area and is doing a better job of meeting the six month deadline. I wouldn't get overly excited about this improvement; after all, we are still talking about six months!

Now you begin the process of obtaining, or should I say possibly obtaining, a license by completing the application form and supplying the requires supporting form and supplying the required supporting materials. Keep in mind that any error on your part can result in having to start all over again, and with nonrefundable fees totaling $76, repeating the process can be expensive. You should also be aware of the fact that you will have to bear the costs and fees of securing all of the necessary support materials. As this article progresses, the significance of these expenditures will become self-evident.

The following is what you will need to submit: "One (1) Typed, signed and notarized application form." You will also need to turn in two photographs of yourself taken within the 30 days immediately preceding the filing of the application. Also, you will need a copy of your birth certificate and some other proof of birth. For those of you who have served into our armed forces, it will be necessary to produce copies of your Separation Paper (DD214) and your Military Service Discharge. The next step is to provide some kind of proof that you are a resident of the city. A current utility bill showing your name and address might be acceptable. But, if you are living with someone and his or her name appears on such bills (many wives would be affected here), you must add to the utility bill an affidavit from the person whose name appears on the bill swearing that you live with them. This affidavit "must be notarized." "Your investigator may request further documentation."

I think it is probably best if the next requirement is quoted first and then commented on: "If you were ever arrested for any reason, you must submit an original transcript from the Clerk of the Court in the County of arrest showing all of the charges and dispositions. Also, you must submit a detailed notarized statement describing the circumstances surrounding each arrest." Notice that whether or not you were ever convicted of a crime does not seem to matter. Nor will it matter if you were ever arrested by mistake and then released. You will still have to produce documentation that may have absolutely nothing to do with past criminal activity.

Now, as far as I can tell, the materials listed above are basically what should be submitted for either a Premises (residence) or Target license, that is unless your investigator requires additional documentation. However, New York City doesn't issue just two licenses; they actually have a total of at least seven licenses in five categories. These licenses are as follows: 1.) Premises (residence or business); 2.) Special (carry or target); 3.) Carry Guard/Security; 4.) Target; and 5.) Carry Business. Most law-abiding citizens of the Big Apple should be able to get a Premises (residence) or Target license if they are willing to tough out the application process. The other licenses that allow you to carry are much, much harder to obtain. I'll talk about the carry licenses a little later on. What I wish to do now is get back to the first item on the list of required materials (the pistol license application form), because some of the question that you must answer on it are interesting.

While filling out the pistol license application (remember that all applicants must complete this form), you should keep in mind the fact that it is a public document, and anything that you say on it or attach to it might appear on the evening news. On side one of the form, the questions are fairly standard: name, address, social security number, etc. However, side two is another matter. On side two there are 14 questions that begin with the words "HAVE YOU EVER.? Many of these questions are very broad, giving the license issuing authorities the greatest possible latitude in finding a reason for not issuing you a license. The following are the most blatant examples: No. 11 asks, "Have you ever been discharged from any employment?" This question does nmot specify exactly what kind of cirumstances would be of interest to New York City's pistol licensing authorities. People are discharged from their positions for many reasons, ranging from dishonesty to rather mundane matters. As you can see, this type of nonspecific question allows for much conjecture.

No. 17 asks if you have ever "been rejected for military service." Oh come on Mr. Police Commissioner, exactly what are you trying to get at with this question? Surely you must realize that the military can reject potential enlistees for many reasons. For example, the Army will not accept a convicted ax murderer or anyone with an extensive criminal background. They will also turn away people with flat feet, as well as individuals who are too tall, too short or too fat. Also, what about people who were rejected from military service 30 or 40 years ago? Where are they going to find the necessary documentation to prove that such rejection was for some health-related reason and not for some matter that would negatively affect their ability to establish "good moral character?" The potential for speculative abuse embodied in this question is so obvious that it could only be intentional.

Questions 19 and 20 are worded in such a way that it is best to read them together. No. 19 asks "Have you ever had any license or permit issued to you by any city, state or federal agency?" No. 20 continues, " ... has any corporation or partnership of which you were an officer, director, partner or employee, ever made an application for or possessed a license or permit issued by the Policy Department? If YES, give type, year, license number." First, you are again going to have to attach a separate notarized statement listing your driver's license, fishing license, hunting license, library card, and so on. Based on the way question No. 19 is phrased, this could mean listing every license or permit that you have every had. Anyone past middle-age should have a lot of fun here. Now, in order to truthfully answer question No. 20, many people will find themselves in the position of having to do the following: Picture yourself walking into your boss's office one morning and saying, "Good morning boss, how are you today? Oh, by the way, I need a favor. Could you go back over your records and give me a complete list of all the permits or licenses that the New York City Policy Department has ever issued to this corporation? Oh yes, please include the ones that we applied for and didn't get. I know that this corporation was founded in 1898, but I really do need the list. You see, I'm applying for a handgun license."

No 23 asks if you've ever "been arrested, indicted, summoned, for any crime, offense, in any jursidiction, federal, state, or local? If YES list the following date, time, charge(s), disposition, court and police agency." I believe that the major implications of this question were covered earlier in this article when discussing the supporting materials that must accompany the application form. There is, however, one additional point to be made: Felony charges are not the only charges that are documented. In order to fully comply with the requirements of this question, you are going to have to report and document all misdemeanors that you have ever been charged with. There is also no reason for you to assume that 20-year-old traffic citations do not matter, because the question clearly states "...summoned, for any crime, offense, in any jurisdiction ...."

All of the questions that we have just looked at (plus some others not mentioned here) must be answered by all pistol license applicants. And in each case where a yes answer is given, a separate "notarized" statement must accompany the application explaining all of the relevant, juicy or superfluous details. This has to be done, even if all you want is to pssess a handgun in your home for defense or for target practice. Now, if you want a license that allows you to carry a gun, you will have to meet some additional requirements. These additional requirements include a letter or letters "... explaining the applicant's need for a pistol," and an interview.

Based on the way the instructions for a carry license are worded, it appears that only people with a business related need are seriously considered as viable candidates for the privilege. For example, here are some of the things that your letter of necessity must include. First, it must " typewritten on your company letterhead and signed by the owner or corporate officer, or gun custodian, if applicable. All self-employed applicants are to furnish the letter as well." The letter must include a statement giving a "...detailed description of the postion ... and why this position requires the carrying of a pistol." Then another statement is required "... indicating that the applicant is to carry the pistol only within the purview of his job, business or occupational requirements." Let's not forget, "A statement indicating that the applicant has been trained or will receive training in the use and safe handling of a firearm." It is also necessary to include, "A statement indicating how and by what means the pistol will be safeguarded by the employer and/or the applicant when the pistol is not being used." And finally, "A statement indicating the business entity is aware of its responsibility regarding the use and safety of the pistol as enumerated in Articles 35, 265 and 400 of the New York State Penal Law."

In addition to the application form, there are a couple of very interesting points about New York City's gun control laws that need to be mentioned. First, a license to possess a target handgun does not allow you to keep a target gun in your home in a loaded condition. Therefor, if you are forced to shoot a burglar in your home with your target gun, you will have broken one of New York City's gun control laws. If you have an "on premises" license for your home, you are allowed only two authorizations a year to transport your gun to and from an authorized shooting range. Now, even many anti-gunners will concede that if people are going to be allowed to own handguns, they should also be allowed or even required to become skilled in the use of these firearms. But, how is this possible in New York City when you can only practice once every six months? And let's not forget the fact that an "on premises" license for your home does not allow you to ever carry a gun on the street. Therefore, technically, you cannot legally transport a handgun from its place of purchase to the location stated on your "on premises" license.

Enough is enough! I can't deal with New York City's gun control laws, its application form or instructions any longer. I can certainly understand now why so many New Yorkers simply give up in their quest for a handgun license.
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Author:Kavey, Fred
Publication:Guns & Ammo
Date:Sep 1, 1985
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