Nervous residents of New York City (at least those who haven’t already fled the area) have been signing up in increasing numbers for firearms permits, many for the first time in their lives. Given the conditions on the ground there, that’s understandable. But making the decision to take advantage of your Second Amendment rights and actually laying your hands on a firearm legally are two very different things in the Big Apple these days. The New York Post is reporting that there’s a significant backlog in permit applications this season, and among those that do manage to get processed, nearly nine in ten are denied. The NYPD’s License Division hasn’t had too much to say about it, but local gun dealers suspect that this isn’t entirely accidental, while a variety of factors have led to the surge in demand.
The Big Apple’s staggering surge in shootings amid the COVID-19 pandemic has led nearly 9,000 terrified New Yorkers to apply for gun permits — but the NYPD has signed off on fewer than 1,100, The Post has learned.
The 8,088 applications for first-time pistol and rifle permits submitted since March 22 — when coronavirus-related restrictions went into effect — represent a threefold-plus increase over the 2,562 submitted between March 22 and Dec. 31, 2019, NYPD statistics obtained by The Post this week show.
But only 1,087 applications were approved, far less than the 1,778 granted during the same period last year, according to the official data.
There are two primary aspects of this phenomenon to consider, those being why approval rates are down and why demand is so high. The first one is the more disturbing of the two.
Last year, between March and December, the gun permit approval rate was close to 70%. But during the same period in 2020, the approval rate is less than 14 percent. You might be tempted to believe that these figures represent a lot more people applying who turn out to have criminal records or other disqualifying factors, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Some (probably larger) percentage are being denied, of course, but a lot of the applications simply aren’t being processed. One reason is that many officers from the NYPD’s License Division have been pulled off and sent to other assignments during all of the riots and unrest. But some cops believe that this slowdown is being at least partly driven from the top down.
An NYPD source familiar with the situation said the License Division was too short-staffed to deal with the flood of new applications and also blamed an unofficial reluctance to process them.
“The politicians are generally against giving licenses, to begin with, so it’s not a priority,” the source said.
The cause for the surge in demand seems more obvious. Shootings and murders are up significantly in the city, as are robberies. There are still regular massive gatherings in the streets and you never know when the “peaceful protesters” are going to suddenly turn out to be an angry mob that’s trying to drag you out of your car and beat you. People are frightened and looking to defend themselves if they can.
In fact, sources inside the NYPD have noted that this slowdown in permit approvals isn’t something that just cropped up recently. It began when the George Floyd protests kicked off in the spring.
A source familiar with the situation said would-be gun owners began flooding the department with permit applications shortly after the May 25 police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which sparked widespread protests, including in the Big Apple.
Some of the local demonstrations led to riots and looting, including the ransacking of Macy’s famed flagship store in Manhattan’s Herald Square.
No matter what combination of factors is driving this issue, it’s unacceptable. Many of the people who have seen their applications simply disappear into the void have no criminal record should easily have been approved. The Post spoke to owners of jewelry stores that have been robbed repeatedly during the riots who have waited all year for a permit and are unable to get one. But City Hall doesn’t seem the least bit interested in investigating and resolving this problem.