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Old June 9, 2012, 03:01 PM   #1
Join Date: May 4, 2011
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Handgun purchasing in NY and transferring out of state

Hi everyone,

I've got an interesting situation brewing. My father, who lives in New York, bought himself a Walther PPK at a garage sale today. I've done some reading, and I BELIEVE he's now illegally in possession of that weapon. As I understand it, in NY, handguns are registered and you must have a permit to own one. Neither is true for him. So, it seems that gun is still legally registered to its previous owner (assuming it was legally owned previously, which I don't know for sure) and in fact, the person he bought it from (a woman who just wanted to get rid of it) might in fact be legally in jeopardy just for having sold it to him.

My question is, can anyone confirm my understanding in this regard? And assuming I am correct, what should he do to avoid legal issues? Is the only answer "turn it over to the police" at this point?

The second question is related to me... I live in Pennsylvania, and I'm a legal CCW, so there's no problem for me having the gun... IF he could legally transfer to me, which again, I don't think is the case. But, let's assume for the moment that he did legally own it... how can he legally transfer it to me? What would be involved, for example, in him gifting it to me? I don't mean the physical transfer between states, although that might be an issue (although I think the usual interstate transportation rules would apply and we'd be good to go, no FFL required I THINK), but since PA doesn't technically have a registration requirement but NY does, how would ownership transfer to me, and is that even required? Also, does it make a difference if he sells it to me or gives it to me outright?

Right now he's just talking about lending it to me to try it out, but I'm NOT going to take the thing across state lines given that I believe he's illegally in possession of it in the first place... even though I might be able to legally have it in PA, and transport it across state lines, I'd have to believe the ownership issue alone makes that a little more than tricky... but I'm wondering if there's a way he could gift it to me, or sell it to me, and legally work around the legal issues that way.

I think he's gotten himself (and the woman that sold it to him) into a sticky legal situation unfortunately, I'm just hoping there's an easy and clean way out, and I'm wondering if me taking possession is such a way somehow.

Thanks all,
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Old June 9, 2012, 03:48 PM   #2
Brian Pfleuger
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He is illegally in possession of the handgun.

I believe the only proper action would be to turn it over to the police while waiting for the permit to be issued. They will, no doubt, be interesting in speaking to the woman who sold it to him also. He should call the permit issuing authority in his county. Were it me, I'd talk to a lawyer.

Transferring ownership across state lines would require the gun be shipped to an FFL in PA.
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Old June 9, 2012, 04:17 PM   #3
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Yes , lawyer time !
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Old June 9, 2012, 06:49 PM   #4
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Thanks guys. That all confirms what I thought. I'll definitely council him to turn it in, but it's his decision ultimately. I'm not touching it though, that much is certain.
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Old June 9, 2012, 08:31 PM   #5
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tell him whatever he does, do not put bullets in it or in a magazine for it. that is an automatic 3.5 years in jail if in possession of a loaded unregistered gun
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Old June 9, 2012, 10:23 PM   #6
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The only way it can legally cross state lines, without going through an FFL, is if a previous (legal) owner moved out of NY with the weapon. Then, it can be transferred in the new state of residence.

Since none of that applies... it's illegal, all around. Illegal transfer, and illegal possession. ...and illegal for him to transfer it to you, without going through an FFL (which requires him to be in legal possession of it, to begin with - which he is not).

I would definitely contact a lawyer, before the police. In this case, the lawyer might just recommend that the firearm be returned to the person your father bought it from, until (and if) he obtains a permit.
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Old June 9, 2012, 10:49 PM   #7
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Your father should give it back to the seller. As a NYS resident he should've known better than to have purchased an unregistered gun. It can be done next door in Vermont, but not in NY. It's possible it could've been registered to someone deceased. If that's the case it should've been turned in to the local PD for safe keeping until it was sold. It's still not too late to do if the widow claims stupidity.

Upstate NY has more consideration for pistol licensees than lower NY does and can be reasonably dealt with. If he brings that gun into a police station to surrender it he could be opening a big can of worms for himself. As a matter of fact, I can guarantee he'll find himself sitting in a squad room answering all kinds of embarrassing questions that he won't like, such as have you ever been arrested before? That is a real possibility where NY is concerned and he'll definately have to contact a lawyer. If there was a permit that goes with that gun and it's turned in you can purchase it legally through an ffl holder.

Last edited by Mike Irwin; June 12, 2012 at 11:24 AM.
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Old June 10, 2012, 12:41 AM   #8
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My understanding of NY law is his only legal option is to turn it in to local LE.
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Old July 16, 2012, 09:53 AM   #9
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Since it was a “Yard Sale” she may have had a husband who is deceased and potentially the legal gun owner. If she was an executor of the will/estate, she has rights to it under those conditions. As such she can turn over to an FFL if she can prove the aforementioned….. This may be more amenable instead of turning it in, and waiting for a property clerk to have his way with it…… a GOOD FFL will know about this and can help you.
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Old July 16, 2012, 10:35 AM   #10
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I would talk to a lawyer before doing anything else.
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Old July 16, 2012, 01:38 PM   #11
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Question asked and answered. I don't think there's really much left to discuss.
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