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NYS Prop Gun Laws

 
Prop Gun Laws which cover New York State
GUN PROPS AND LAWS THAT GOVERN THEIR USAGE IN FILM AND TELEVISION PRODUCTION

New York State Introduction:
Historically, filming with gun props had been a pretty easy process. Nowadays with ever increasing legislative restrictions, the use of such props without the proper oversight can be illegal and dangerous. A few underground videos have been produced on Long Island where live firearms were used simply because a qualified source for legal props was not sought out, and through ignorance of local, state and federal laws.

The federal government has regulations on who, what and how imitation firearms can be made and dealt.

New York State has legislation that subjects the possessor of any blank-firing non-gun, imitation or look-a-like firearm, to fines and imprisonment. It also has laws that prohibit anyone other then the person to whom it is registered to, to possess an actual firearm for whatever reason. This along with liability for injury or death due to misuse of the un-approved gun props, would expose a production and it’s principals to untold financial and legal penalties.

This is why gun props must only be acquired from an approved Theatrical Gun Dealer licensed by the jurisdiction where the production will take place.
Contrary to rumor, those licensed by New York City alone are not licensed to operate elsewhere in the state.


Pre-Production Process:
First step in using gun props in film/television production is to acquire all necessary production permits for the jurisdiction you wish to film in. The Director of the Motion Picture / TV Bureau of the county can help with acquiring and processing all necessary paperwork. This entails informing the film bureau that firearm props will be used during production. You will then be provided with a list of NYS qualified suppliers of gun props for the jurisdiction. These suppliers will be licensed as Theatrical Gun Dealers by the New York Division of State Police, as well as being licensed federally for such work. That Theatrical dealer will also posses a U.S. Dept. of Commerce Wavier for "prop guns". A retail gun dealer is not allowed to "rent" his inventory for film use, nor can a private citizen use their personally owned firearms in a film production. An outside firearm prop company (not state licensed) can not "bring in" firearms without going through the state licensed Theatrical Gun Dealer. NOTE: New York City approved firearms are not legal outside the city. Do not attempt to bring them out of the city. Their laws on possession and usage are illegal outside the city. If you get caught, you will do jail time.

Next step is to contact one of the suppliers on that list to see if the type or style of weapon prop is in their inventory or will they need to acquire the makes and models needed. It is important to sit down with the supplier a few months in advance and discuss the scenes where firearms will be needed. They have experience in the use and handling of guns as well as the licenses and their help in scene set-up and camera angles will prove invaluable in areas involving expediency and safety. With enough notice, most requirements can be met by the supplier. Security deposits, lease agreements, and instructional for the prop’s use and safe storage between shootings will be handled at this time. Most importantly, is the purchase of enough blank-ammunition for all eventualities, (these are pyrotechnic devices under NYS law and require a state pyrotechnicians license to use and possess. NOTE: NYC licensed pyrotechnicians are not licensed to work outside the city and need a state license also. Remember; you will need a state licensed GUN HANDLER to take possession and responsibility for "live" firearms (serial numbered) for your production company. Your supplier will have information on personnel available for hire. "Fake" firearms (those that do not fire (die-cast, rubber, etc.) also referred to as "static") do not require the GUN HANDLER. They still need designated oversight by the production company in the form of an assigned production company employee (not a "hired" crew member.)

It is now when you will need to acquire all the required insurance coverage that each township and the gun prop supplier needs in order for your production to even be considered. Several things to remember; movie "blanks" are classified as pyrotechnic devices and all the Island’s township will require very specific dollar amounts in the liability coverage, insurance coverage for those actors who will be "shot", actor’s don’t like to get shot even by "blank" guns, including them in all discussions with the supplier will help in alleviating any fears they may have. Contact the town attorney’s office for their requirements. Several Long Island Township’s issue Film Permits and Pyrotechnic Special Effects Permits and these need to be procured also.

Next step is for the production company to notify the township’s Fire Marshal. Copies of all permits received, copies of all personal identifications of the production crew members with responsible for gun prop security, along with CERTIFICATES OF INSURANCE for all the required coverage will need to be provided to the supplier. Several law enforcement agencies will require official notification of the make, model, status (real gun or "fake" gun) and if so marked, the serial numbers of the guns and this information must be provided by the gun prop supplier directly. The law enforcement agency will then issue approval which must be received before the gun props can be leased. The agency will be notified that the contracts have been fulfilled once all props have been returned upon completion of the production. The reason for such a thorough administrative process is that before such props can be used, each one must be approved by the law enforcement agency as being in a condition that it can not chamber or fire live ammunition. This is for your safety and that of your actors and crew, as well as the citizens of Long Island.
SAFETY TAKES PRECEDENCE OVER ALL!
Pre-Production Planning:
It is imperative that before you approach the prop supplier, you decide if the weapons need to be non-firing, functional blank-firing or full flash blank-firing. Things to remember when deciding are; the more complicated the gun, the more money it will cost. 30 full auto Uzi’s capable of shooting 4 foot flames from the muzzle will cost you considerably more then non-function Uzi props made from rubber. If only one weapon fires at any one time during any one scene, then by all means cut your costs with 29 rubber guns. If all the Detectives have guns in their holsters, and only one revolver has to fire, "fakes" can fill the bill for the holstered guns and only one "live" gun is needed for the gun shot scene. "Fakes" come in several styles of construction: metal, plastic and rubber. Depending on if the actor has to throw or fall on the prop, or if it will appear in a close-up will determine what type to use.

On-Set Gun Handler:
The last consideration is whether the firearm props you’ve chosen, will require an On-Set Gun Handler to safeguard the props, handle and load as well as unload between "takes". It is this person who takes direction from your Property Master as to what and when the gun props are to appear in a scene.

***THE GUN HANDLER IS NOT SUBORDINATE TO THE PROPERTY MASTER***
The Gun Handler’s word is law when it involves the use of gun props. If he determines that the prop’s usage in the scene will place the actors and/or the production crew in any danger whatsoever, it is his responsibility to terminate the scene and re-retain the gun prop until such time that safeguards are in place to assure the safety of the scene. Federal and state law requires that any prop made from a live firearm, machine gun, shotgun or rifle be under direct supervision and guardianship of a licensed Gun Handler at all times. This would add to your production costs the wage, insurance and sundry costs of the Gun Handler, but would reduce your security and storage problems. Gun Handlers must be licensed by the jurisdiction within which the production will take place.

Production Company Gun Prop Custodian:
This is the designated member of the production company crew who will be in full time charge of the "fake" gun props during the entire period of the lease. Because the "fake" guns exactly resemble a "live" firearm, great care in the oversight of the props must be taken to prevent unauthorized and/or illegal usage. On-Set horseplay or a crew member taking one home just to show his wife or girlfriend can and will break laws. If a Police officer becomes somehow involved, someone may also get shot. The risks are not worth the law suits, so make sure that the crew member you so designate is responsible enough for the job. His identification information will need to be provided to the gun prop supplier at the time of pick up of the props.

Special Effects Technicians and Movie Pyrotechnicians:
Gun shot effects; blood hits, spark hits, dust hits, glass hits all fall under the realm of the SF/X crew and NYS Licensed Pyrotechnician. They are the professionals who have the knowledge, expertise and equipment to perform the effects and stunts (gags) safely and effectively. This is not the area of production expenditure to cut corners on. Explosives, air rams, body armor, wire-guided body hits, debris mortars, as well as squibs, DET-cord, black powder bombs and gasoline require a tremendous amount of safety oversight.
It can not be stressed enough,
USE PROFESSIONALS, DO NOT ATTEMPT IT YOURSELF.

All MOVIE GUN SERVICES LLC EMPLOYEES ARE LICENSED AS NYS GUN HANDLERS & PYROTECHNICIANS

FEDERAL LAWS CONCERNING BLANKED "LIVE" FIREARMS

It is paramount that the production company performs a criminal background check on their actors prior to production. The vast majority of today's actors have a checkered background and quite a few have debilitating felonies and misdemeanors which preclude them from ever touching a "live" firearm. Certification of a clean record is just some of the necessary documentation required by the Gun Wrangler prior to arriving on-set with converted firearms.
It is also not unheard of for Production, Grips, Gaffers, Make-up and support services employees to have a criminal past. These people can make or break a production by committing one single act of secreting away a prop gun. Check your crew; all of them. Don't rely on an employment questionnaire. Spend the money and have them background-checked.

Here are just some of the federally recognized categories of individuals who cannot touch a firearm;

These categories include any person --

  • Under indictment or information in any court for a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year;
  • convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year;
  • who is a fugitive from justice;
  • who is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance;
  • who has been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been committed to any mental institution;
  • who is an illegal alien;
  • who has been discharged from the military under dishonorable conditions;
  • who has renounced his or her United States citizenship;
  • who is subject to a court order restraining the person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or child of the intimate partner; or
  • who has been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence (enacted by the Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act of 1997, Pub. L. No. 104-208, effective September 30, 1996). 18 U.S.C. 922(g) and (n).

Do not rely on their Union to certify crew members; it is up to you. It will pay in the long run!

TITLE 15--COMMERCE AND TRADE
                     CHAPTER 76--IMITATION FIREARMS
 Sec. 5001. Penalties for entering into commerce of imitation firearms       

(a) Acts prohibited

    It shall be unlawful for any person to manufacture, enter into commerce, ship, transport, or receive any toy, look-alike, or imitation firearm unless such firearm contains, or has affixed to it, a marking approved by the Secretary of Commerce, as provided in subsection (b) of this section.

(b) Distinctive marking or device; exception; waiver; adjustments and changes

    (1) Except as provided in paragraph (2) or (3), each toy, look-alike, or imitation firearm shall have as an integral part, permanently affixed, a blaze orange plug inserted in the barrel of such toy, look-alike, or imitation firearm. Such plug shall be recessed no more than 6 millimeters from the muzzle end of the barrel of such firearm.
    (2) The Secretary of Commerce may provide for an alternate marking or device for any toy, look-alike, or imitation firearm not capable of being marked as provided in paragraph (1) and may waive the requirement of any such marking or device for any toy, look-alike, or imitation firearm that will only be used in the theatrical, movie or television industry.
    (3) The Secretary is authorized to make adjustments and changes in the marking system provided for by this section, after consulting with interested persons.

(c) ``Look-alike firearm'' defined

    For purposes of this section, the term ``look-alike firearm'' means any imitation of any original firearm which was manufactured, designed, and produced since 1898, including and limited to toy guns, water guns, replica nonguns, and air-soft guns firing nonmetallic projectiles. Such term does not include any look-alike, nonfiring, collector replica of an antique firearm developed prior to 1898, or traditional B-B, paint-ball, or pellet-firing air guns that expel a projectile through the force of air pressure.

(d) Study and report

    The Director of the Bureau of Justice Statistics is authorized and directed to conduct a study of the criminal misuse of toy, look-alike and imitation firearms, including studying police reports of such incidences and shall report on such incidences relative to marked and unmarked firearms.

(e) Technical evaluation of marking systems
    The Director of the National Institute of Justice is authorized and directed to conduct a technical evaluation of the marking systems provided for in subsection (b) of this section to determine their effectiveness in police combat situations. The Director shall begin the study within 3 months after November 5, 1988, and such study shall be completed within 9 months after November 5, 1988.

(f) Effective date
    This section shall become effective on the date 6 months after November 5, 1988, and shall apply to toy, look-alike, and imitation firearms manufactured or entered into commerce after November 5, 1988.

(g) Preemption of State or local laws or ordinances; exceptions
    The provisions of this section shall supersede any provision of State or local laws or ordinances which provide for markings or identification inconsistent with provisions of this section provided that no State shall--
        (i) prohibit the sale or manufacture of any look-alike, nonfiring, collector replica of an antique firearm developed prior to 1898, or
        (ii) prohibit the sale (other than prohibiting the sale to minors) of traditional B-B, paint ball, or pellet-firing air guns that expel a projectile through the force of air pressure.

(Pub. L. 100-615, Sec. 4, Nov. 5, 1988, 102 Stat. 3190.)

PART 1150—MARKING OF TOY, LOOK-ALIKE AND IMITATION FIREARMS
Authority: Section 4 of the Federal Energy Management Improvement Act of 1988, 15 U.S.C. 5001.
Source: 54 FR 19358, May 5, 1989, unless otherwise noted.

Applicability.
This part applies to toy, look-alike, and imitation firearms (“devices”) having the appearance, shape, and/or configuration of a firearm and produced or manufactured and entered into commerce on or after May 5, 1989, including devices modeled on real firearms manufactured, designed, and produced since 1898. This part does not apply to:
(a) Non-firing collector replica antique firearms, which look authentic and may be a scale model but are not intended as toys modeled on real firearms designed, manufactured, and produced prior to 1898;
(b) Traditional B–B, paint-ball, or pellet-firing air guns that expel a projectile through the force of compressed air, compressed gas or mechanical spring action, or any combination thereof, as described in American Society for Testing and Materials standard F 589–85, Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Non-Powder Guns, June 28, 1985. This incorporation by reference was approved by the Director of the Federal Register in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 552(a) and 1 CFR part 51. Copies may be obtained from the American Society for Testing and Materials, 1916 Race Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103. Copies may be inspected at the office of the Associate Director for Industry and Standards, National Institute for Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, Maryland, or at the Office of the Federal Register, 800 North Capitol Street, NW., suite 700, Washington, DC; and
(c) Decorative, ornamental, and miniature objects having the appearance, shape and/or configuration of a firearm, including those intended to be displayed on a desk or worn on bracelets, necklaces, key chains, and so on, provided that the objects measure no more than thirty-eight (38) millimeters in height by seventy (70) millimeters in length, the length measurement excluding any gun stock length measurement.
[57 FR 48453, Oct. 26, 1992]

Prohibitions.
No person shall manufacture, enter into commerce, ship, transport, or receive any toy, look-alike, or imitation firearm (“device”) covered by this part as set forth in §1150.1 of this part unless such device contains, or has affixed to it, one of the markings set forth in §1150.3 of this part, or unless this prohibition has been waived by §1150.4 of this part.
[54 FR 19358, May 5, 1989]

Approved markings.
The following markings are approved by the Secretary of Commerce:
(a) A blaze orange (Federal Standard 595a, February, 1987, color number 12199, issued by the General Services Administration) or orange color brighter than that specified by the federal standard color number, solid plug permanently affixed to the muzzle end of the barrel as an integral part of the entire device and recessed no more than 6 millimeters from the muzzle end of the barrel. This incorporation by reference was approved by the Director of the Federal Register in accordance with U.S.C. 552(a) and 1 CFR part 51. Copies of Federal Standard 595a may be obtained from the Office of Engineering and Technical Management, Chemical Technology Division, Paints Branch, General Services Administration, Washington, DC 20406. Copies may be inspected at the office of the Associate Director for Industry and Standards, National Institute for Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, Maryland, or at the Office of the Federal Register, 800 North Capitol Street, NW., suite 700, Washington, DC.
(b) A blaze orange (Federal Standard 595a, February, 1987, color number 12199, issued by the General Services Administration) or orange color brighter than that specified by the Federal Standard color number, marking permanently affixed to the exterior surface of the barrel, covering the circumference of the barrel from the muzzle end for a depth of at least 6 millimeters. This incorporation by reference was approved by the Director for the Federal Register in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 552(a) and 1 CFR part 51. Copies of Federal Standard 595a may be obtained from the Office of Engineering and Technical Management, Chemical Technology Division, Paints Branch, General Services Administration, Washington, DC 20406. Copies may be inspected at the office of the Associate Director for Industry and Standards, National Institute for Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, Maryland, or at the Office of the Federal Register, 800 North Capitol Street, NW., suite 700, Washington, DC.
(c) Construction of the device entirely of transparent or translucent materials which permits unmistakable observation of the device's complete contents.
(d) Coloration of the entire exterior surface of the device in white, bright red, bright orange, bright yellow, bright green, bright blue, bright pink, or bright purple, either singly or as the predominant color in combination with other colors in any pattern.
[54 FR 19358, May 5, 1989, as amended at 57 FR 48454, Oct. 26, 1992]

Waiver.
The prohibitions set forth in §1150.2 of this part may be waived for any toy, look-alike or imitation firearm that will be used only in the theatrical, movie or television industries. A request for such a waiver should be made, in writing, to the Chief Counsel for Technology, United States Department of Commerce, Washington, DC 20230. The request must include a sworn affidavit which states that the toy, look-alike, or imitation firearm will be used only in the theatrical, movie or television industry. A sample of the item must be included with the request.
[57 FR 48454, Oct. 26, 1992]

Preemption.
In accordance with section 4(g) of the Federal Energy Management Improvement Act of 1988 (15 U.S.C. 5001(g)), the provisions of section 4(a) of that Act and the provisions of this part supersede any provision of State or local laws or ordinances which provides for markings or identification inconsistent with the provisions of section 4 of that Act or the provisions of this part.
[54 FR 19358, May 5, 1989]

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