It was a remarkable feeling being able to hold that plastic in my hand. It felt like a credit card, but it might as well been my college diploma. Probably the months of toiling over the paperwork and the waiting might have something to do with it. I had finally obtained a NYC premises pistol license! I knew I had more work ahead of me. I had 30 days to use my Pistol Purchase Authorization.
And while I’ve used some firearm, I wasn’t very knowledgeable about them. It wasn’t like buying for a dress or a pair of shoes. You can’t try out guns in the store for the most part here. I didn’t know where to begin.
I asked the family firearms expert and he suggested I go to my local range and try out some guns there. It sounded like a really good idea. Prior to going to the range, I was given a suggestion of going with a Glock 23. It’s a 40 caliber and because of it’s simplicity it’s a good gun for beginners. They had a Glock 23 at the range. With the instructor nearby guiding me how to properly hold the gun, I was getting ready to pull the trigger. As I squeezed the trigger, I paid attention to how comfortable it was to hold and also how much of a recoil it had. Having small hands, it wasn’t the easiest gun to hold. Also I felt a tremendous recoil with this one. I pulled the trigger a few more times and I felt no differently about it. As much as I initially wanted to go with the Glock 23, I asked if a 9 mm might be better for me.
The instructor offered me the Glock 17. I tried it and I still felt such a strong recoil and I was not firing accurately. I was also flinching badly that day. He then told me that he had the perfect gun for me. I was curious. He went to the back and brought out a case. He opened it and then offered it to me. I couldn’t help but notice it felt really good in my hand. It was a Sig Sauer P239. It was love at first sight ♥ !
It felt totally different from the Glocks. Glocks are light-weight with a polymer frame. This Sig Sauer was all metal and felt very solid. Shooting it was effortless. Hardly a recoil. I knew this was my gun. I asked how much it was. When the instructor paused, I had a feeling it was going to be pricey. It was. I had to think it over.
I’m a maven when it comes to shopping for most things. Tell me what you’re looking for and I can tell you where you can buy that item for the best price. But handguns are another story. So I started by going to a social media site where you find a lot of foodies hang out. Yup, I went to Yelp. I found one gun shop in lower Manhattan. Online research was next. I created a spreadsheet and made a list of all the gun shops I found in the local area. Most of them were on Long Island. I wrote down what I needed to ask. I took a deep breath and started making calls. I needed to find a place that had the Sig Sauer P239 in stock because I couldn’t take a chance in waiting for an order to come in. Remember that 30 day Purchase Authorization?
Most of the places I called did not have the Sig Sauer in stock. I called the Manhattan gun shop. The man who answered the phone had that voice from the old world. With a heavy Italian accent he assured me he had the gun in stock. But growing up in Brooklyn, I’ve learned to be suspect of people who was a little too easy-going and too quick to give the answer you want to hear. Also his price quote was way lower than his competitors. My gut told me not to trust him.
A week later I walked into the range in Manhattan with my metal box. One of the instructors chuckled and said, “You brought your safe?” I bought my very first pistol — a brand spanking new Sig Sauer P239. I didn’t think it was such a momentous occasion, but other members of the gun club came over and congratulated me. My girl friend who went with me wanted to hold the gun, but the instructor said she wasn’t even’t allowed to touch it since she didn’t have a license. It was the first bit of camaraderie I felt with other gun owners. Suddenly I realized that I was part of small group of people in NYC that supported gun rights. It was one of those moments where you feel a chill going down your spine.
One of the things I purchased at the range along with the gun was a trigger lock. It’s a gadget that you place over the trigger that you must unlock before using. I was warned that I must have this in place when I bring the gun in for inspection. Failure to have it in place may cause me to be denied an inspection. Another sword hanging over my head. And another deadline. I needed to get to One Police Plaza within the next 72 hours.
Back for the third and final time (hopefully) to One Police Plaza. Remember that I also visited one of their divisions in Kew Gardens to drop off my initial 15 page application. That was 6 months ago. If I was in fear for my life, the gun laws in NYC are not on my side. People have died because of waiting periods. If you don’t believe me, go watch the documentary, Michael and Me.
When I started the process of getting a gun, it was spring. Now that the process is coming to an end, winter is just around the corner. It is the 1st of November and I finally figured out how to make it to One Police Plaza in good time. I walked quickly from the Q train and I made it there by 11:30 am. But you know what? Nobody appreciates it when you arrive early. When I got to the visitor center, a female police officer asked me for the purpose of my visit. I told her I needed to have my gun inspected. She looked at her watch. She said, “It’s not open till 12 noon. I can’t let you in yet.” I pleaded that it was cold outside. She said I could wait in that visitor center. I passed on her offer because there wasn’t even a place to sit. I went and got a cup of coffee and returned 15 minutes later.
After going through security, I was directed to the same room I visited to pick up the actual license. I wondered if that nice lady was still working on her knitting project. She was there, but I don’t think she recognized me. I was given a rather large ticket. It reminded me of those passes we had wear around our necks when we used to wait for the school bus. I took a seat. I was the only female waiting to get a gun inspected. It was a racially mixed group. One black man, one white man, a Southeast Asian and me. An orthodox Jewish man walked in after I was seated. Everyone wants a gun.
When it was my turn, the gun inspector came over and escorted me to a shoe box office. He had me unlock my blue gun case. He took a look at the gun and took down some information. And almost moments later I had a new pistol license which had my gun information printed on the back. Yup. That’s how it’s done here in NYC. All your guns are listed on the license. Mind you. This is just a premises pistol license. It would be completely illegal for me to carry a gun.
If you were patient enough to read all four parts of my journey, you probably realized that the process of getting a gun in NYC is impractical at it’s best and insane at it’s worst. The unfortunate murder of of novelist, David Graham Phillips by Fitzhugh Coyle Goldsborough on January 23, 1911 left an indelible mark on NYC gun legislature. The Sullivan Law was a direct result of the public outcry of this highly-publicized murder. It was a hasty emotional response that hasn’t served New York’s citizens well in the last century. I hope that people’s changing attitude toward guns, and the rising number of people buying guns will eventually change NYC gun control laws.
In the mean time, I am very relieved to have this gun in my possession because I will know what to do when an intruder kicks down my front door….
An Antioch man at home with his young son disarmed an 18-year-old man who kicked in his front door and shot him dead with his own gun, the second time in three months that a resident in the city has fought back with deadly results, police said Tuesday.