Gunsmiths repair, modify and sometimes design parts for firearms. In New York state, gunsmiths must have a license to operate. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) regulates gunsmiths. Not only must gunsmiths have a license to practice their craft, their place of business must also adhere to state and local guidelines.
Gunsmiths in New York State
In New York, a gunsmith makes manufacturer-authorized repairs to firearms, modifies them and makes parts by hand. A skilled gunsmith has experience in ballistics, engraving, and machinist tools and processes.
A gunsmith ensures that a firearm works properly and is safe to operate. The services they offer vary from business to business. In the state of New York, they include:
- Clearing obstructions from the bore, or barrel, of the firearm.
- Installing gun sights and triggers.
- Repairing ejection, feeding and firing issues.
- Re-crowning muzzles.
- Correcting any timing issues.
- Applying a finish to the firearm.
- Building custom stocks.
- Installing mounts and scopes.
- Modifying the gun for night vision or thermal imaging devices.
- Installing manufacturer replacement parts.
- Checking for incorrect head-space.
- Replacing the firing pin.
Gunsmith Licenses and Business Compliance
To work as a gunsmith anywhere in the U.S., federal law requires a Federal Firearms License (FFL) from the ATF. This includes an extensive background check. There are different levels of FFLs, and the fees range between $200 and $3,000 depending on the level. A gunsmith's license application carries a fee of about $200. According to New York Penal Law Section 400.00, licenses for gunsmiths in New York must expire no more than three years from the issue date.
Gunsmith Firearm Handling Rules
Gunsmiths must keep detailed records regarding the guns they receive and give to others. The law also regulates how they receive and dispose of those guns. For example:
- Gunsmiths can only dispose of handguns to people who have a pistol license in New York and are residents of the state.
- Long guns can go to residents of any state, provided they comply with the laws of the home state and New York State.
- Gunsmiths can dispose of handguns to anyone with an FFL and receive guns from anyone with an FFL who also has a state Dealer in Firearms License.
- They can acquire handguns from a person without a firearms dealer's license who has a state pistol license.
- They cannot dispose of a handgun to out-of-state residents.
Gunsmith's Premises Requirements
A gunsmith must have adequate security at their business. They must have an alarm system with 24-hour monitoring and a safe or vault room big enough to house all handguns on the premises during non-work hours. They must empty display cases before closing. Glass cases must have the top glass sealed in a way that prevents theft and gunsmiths must lock firearms in cabinets or locked containers when unattended.
The gunsmith business must comply with all local town or village zoning, including building and fire codes, and expect occasional inspections from the Pistol Licensing Bureau. This may consist of inspection of the premises and handgun security practices, records maintenance and compliance with local, state and federal laws. A gunsmith's employees must also have a New York State Pistol License if they have access to, or possess, a firearm. The gunsmith must have their FFL license visibly displayed at gun shows.
Michelle Nati is an associate editor and writer who has reported on legal, criminal and government news for PasadenaNow.com and Complex Media. She holds a B.A. in Communications and English from Niagara University.