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Discouraged.

This is the second part of my story of how I got a gun in NYC.
Read Part I here.

It’s as if New York City planned it this way:

“We can’t outright deny our citizens the right to possess firearms, but we can make the fee so exorbitantly high and the application forms so preposterously long and tedious that it will discourage most people….”

1. Two non-refundable fees:
a) $340 for the application
b) $94.25 for the fingerprints

2. Two passport-sized photos

3. Birth certificate

4. Proof of residence

5. If you look at page 2 on the application form, you will see the long list of questions. One of the questions in particular really irked me. Look at question no. 18:

Are you presently engaged in any other employment, business or profession where a need for a firearm exists?

6. An entire page is dedicated to listing the types of licenses that are “available.” I place quotes around the word available because for most ordinary citizens like myself that aren’t employed by the police department, or working as a security guard, or carrying around large wads of cash on a regular basis, most of the licenses listed below would not be applicable except for no. 1: “Premises License.”

The reality is that I was only eligible for a premises license.

6. Affidavit of Co-Habitant: “I understand that the applicant has applied for a rifle/shotgun permit or handgun license from the New York City Police Department, and I have no objection to him/her receiving a permit or license and storing firearms in my home.” This affidavit needs to be signed by any and all co-habitants and notarized.

7. Acknowledgement of Person Agreeing to Safegard Firearm(s). This document needs to be signed and requires a witness.

8. Affidavit of Familiarity with Rules and Law. Another document needing signature and notary signature.

9. An if you didn’t remember or reading the blog for the first time, the application is 15 pages long.

Notice empty holster.

One month later: May 24, 2011. After checking over in an OCD-like manner to make sure I had all the necessary paperwork, documents and checks, my husband drove me to Kew Gardens. They accept the initial paperwork here and send it over to One Police Plaza. (This was a plus if you have ever tried to go into Manhattan during the week.) I had to literally go to the basement to find the room that processed the paperwork. There they accepted my application (which involved hours of toiling) and a very hefty fee of $424. And they even digitally fingerprinted me. It was rather disappointing the whole affair since I was given nothing but a receipt for payment, a nod and a heads up from the clerk saying I should get a letter from the police officer investigating my application.

A month later, I receive a letter dated June 20, 2011 from One Police Plaza from the police officer investigating my application. The form letter invites me to an interview. And on the second page, he asks me to provide more paperwork! 10 items, 6 of which I had already submitted with the initial application. But who am I to argue…. But the kicker is that I needed 3 NOTARIZED character references, acknowledging that they are aware that I am applying for a handgun license as well as attesting to my good character written by anyone who has known me for five years or more. It states: “Family members and non-citizens, are excluded from providing the required letters. If your letter is written by an employer, clergyman or any other prominent person, it must be on their letterhead.”

It’s bad enough I had to ask three people to write letters for me. How many people do you know that knows you for five or more years that isn’t a family member? Statistically, most people move every five years, so I wonder why the police department chose the arbitrary five years. Why not three? To make it even more difficult, it states that the letters had to be notarized. I hate asking people for favors, so this might have been the most onerous of requirements. After I assembled all the paperwork, I called my investigator to set up an interview.

Easier Said Than Done.

Well either he didn’t like to answer his phone calls or was hardly ever in the office. I would call. The phone would ring and ring. They never heard of an answering machine? After numerous failed attempts to reach my investigator, I decided I needed to speak to a human being (not entirely unreasonable), so I called the main number and spoke to a live person, a female police officer. I explained to her I needed to set up an interview with my investigator and I’ve called countless times and I couldn’t get in touch with him. “Could I possibly leave a message for him?” I pleaded in my politest sweetest voice. No sympathy there. She said there was nothing she could do. She told me I would simply have to call again. Stonewalled by another heartless bureaucrat. I hung up and tried again for several more days. Finally, I got my investigator on the phone! He was quite congenial on the phone. I made no reference to the fact that it took me a long time to reach him. The interview was set up for August 9 at 9 am. I was already thinking about what I was going to wear.

Well the big day finally came. I decided upon this outfit.
I was going for the librarian look.

Since I live in one of the outer boroughs, it wasn’t a picnic getting to One Police Plaza. Free parking during weekdays is virtually unheard of in the city, so I had to rely on the good ol’ public transportation. (Do you think the bureaucrats took this into consideration when they made up the procedures requiring all applicants to haul themselves over to One Police Plaza?) Unfortunately the public transportation was more old than good that day. The initial bus came late, and the subway moved slowly as well. By the time my subway arrived at Canal Street, it was already 8:30. I was annoyed at myself for not leaving the house earlier. There is nothing I hate more than being late to a meeting. It is unprofessional and always makes a bad first impression.

I jumped on the nearest bus thinking I know I’m going in the right direction. I just need the bus driver to tell me what stop I needed to get off. But just my luck! This bus driver was a newbie and he didn’t know which stop I had to get off. Meanwhile, he’s asking the passengers as they came in which stop was for One Police Plaza. I was angry and it didn’t humor me any when the bus driver asked me if the mole above my lip was real. No, I penciled it in specifically for my interview today. Welcome to NYC!

I kept frantically looking at my watch, knowing it was getting dangerously close to 9 am. That was one of the longest bus rides of my life. When I got off the bus, my feet pounded the pavement as fast as it could. It was 9 am. I felt my heart racing. I reached for my cellphone to tell my investigator that I was running late… Grrr. To be continued.

Read Part 3 here.

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