I was born, have studied, lived and worked in the greatest city in the world, New York City, for my entire life. There is a reason countless stories have spawned from NYC – because it is the center of everything. It is easy to dismiss this when you are from elsewhere, but live here long enough and you get it. Please don’t misinterpret my words. I do not think it to be the best place to live or work. It just is what it is. Good or bad, it is the center of everything. Do not debate this fact. Plus, to compare it to anywhere else is unfair. It is not a place you uproot your family to go live because it is a friendly community with space for your kids to explore. It is more like a Disney World for life. All the rides are successful here, but will you be “tall” enough to ride? . . .
I bring this up because cities try to be like New York City and when it comes to gun rights in our country this spells disaster. There is full-on registration of firearms in NYC. Not just assault rifles or handguns, I mean ever single firearm that is legally owned is registered with the city. I wanted to share with you my journey to become a concealed carry handgun license holder in NYC.
I was exposed to firearms at a young age, having spent my summers in the great state of Pennsylvania. I learned from am early age to respect firearms and how to safely handle them. My father and uncle would routinely bring me to an outdoor rage in order to learn, better my skills and bond. As I grew older we would go hunting together “upstate” (which to NYC residents is anywhere in New York but NYC).
I went to university to study pharmacy in Queens. This was the first time in my 17 years of living in NYC that I was exposed to gun violence. Right outside my building on campus, a man fired five shots and struck a fleeing man in the back of his leg and another in his back.
Later that same year I feel that NYC was changed forever. It was a day that made me dislike beautiful sunny Tuesdays. I lost multiple family and friends on that Tuesday in September. After that day NYC became a modern day police state. If you do not think this is true, try to take a box truck trough the Brooklyn Battery tunnel and tell them they don’t have a right to search your truck. People are quick to give up rights to have the illusion of safety. I even felt this way as well. I realized I do not know if I would be like Sly Stallone and be able to escape the tunnel before meeting my end.
I recently opened a retail store and after a year of being open, I decided to apply for a handgun permit. I had to go to One Police Plaza which is the NYC police headquarters to pay $340 for the application an $91.50 to be finger printed. Now I have read many people’s anecdotes about getting their CCW in other states. Where they park and walk into their local police station and spoke with a friendly officer or receptionist and they receive their permit in the mail. One Police Plaza might as well be a military installation.
First because of where it is situated, the closest you can park is about 1/2 mile away. When you approach there are two guard houses. One for employees and one for visitors. The visitors guard house contains a setup similar to airport security with magnetometer, X-ray machines and a number of armed officers. Once you are checked out, you proceed to a kiosk that requires you to enter your name and have your picture taken. You are then rewarded with a slip of paper with a bar code and your picture.
You then proceed about 50 yards to the main building. Upon entering you are greeted by two more officers that check your ID against the computer printout and they ask were you are headed. They place that information on a sticky name tag and ask that you attach that to you shirt.
I then walked to the correct room and I was asked to be seated to wait my turn. Now through this whole process everyone was very nice and courteous. However sitting there waiting for my name to be called I felt on edge, as if I was not allowed there or if I was waiting to be call into the principal’s office. I was nervous to be asking for the permission to exercise a constitutional right. Seems odd to me now but at the time it was a way to keep me safe.
I waited about 2 months to be called for my interview. I again had to report to One Police Plaza and speak with my investigative officer. We had a brief chat where he asked me some questions and told me how the rest of the process would go. He told me that there would be a mental health check and FBI search of some sort. This is on top of the binder full of documents that I was required to bring with me. Again, a terribly nice guy.
I received my approval about a month later. I had 30 days to report back to One Police Plaza or else I would have to start the process again. When I got there to get my license they take your photo, give you your new license and a slip that gives the FFL the permission to sell you a handgun, which you have another 30 days to obtain. Once you purchase the firearm you have 72 hours to have it inspected and REGISTERED to your license. I decided to get this all done in one day due to how much time away from my business this process was causing. I went to a FFL that is a quick cab ride from One Police Plaza.
After I purchase my firearm, a trigger lock and a lock for the outside of the case, I received a friendly reminder from FFL dealer not to have any ammo on me when going back to have my gun inspected which would mean immediate arrest for bringing a loaded firearm to One Police Plaza. The whole experience was rushed and hurried I had to get back before 2 pm.
I returned to the visitors guard house and they x-rayed my bag and gave me a big sign that stated “Unloaded Firearm”. I reported to my investigating officer and he inspected and registered my firearm and gave me a new license with the serial number, a description, and caliber of my gun. I thanked him for the privilege and went on my way.
The privilege? Yes, this is how I felt – privileged to be grated permission. I hold numerous federal and state licenses to purchase and transport narcotics and chemicals of all sorts but those are privileges granted to me because of my education and hard work. Is the second amendment to be treated the same way?
I had the firearm in my backpack, locked up tight, and headed to the subway to return to work. As I was slowing my hurried pace and looked around as I began to realize something had changed, but not with anyone else around me. I was now carrying a handgun concealed, although unloaded, and no one else knew but me.
Not that I was somehow more macho or part of the sheepdog club. Nothing like that, actually far from it. I began to think about all the others that are carrying all around me. Could it be in her purse or in his waist band are they licensed, are they law enforcement, or are they a criminal? The thing that had changed is that I now understood how the gun laws are there for people that are law abiding. That it didn’t stop the criminals from obtaining and carrying firearms.
I am writing these words not just to let you know my experience, but for you to realize how important these times are. Most people I know in this great and influential city give up many of their rights to feel safe, but it is all an illusion. The criminals are just that…criminals, and do not abide by the laws. Our protectors, the NYPD, are good but they are not Superman and therefore not faster than a speeding bullet. I hope this gives everyone some perspective on how your town, too can become a police state of sorts. We need to be vocal and active and most of all, responsible with our rights. If we are to be responsible for our own protection, then we must be also for our action and words.