The Bloomberg administration announced on Friday that it was moving to simplify the process for New Yorkers to obtain gun permits, thus speeding up a set of byzantine licensing requirements that gun-rights advocates have long criticized as among the most restrictive in the country.

Administration officials said that the move was forged by a City Hall focused on efficiency and that it would allow for better investigation of applicants who might not qualify for a gun while more swiftly satisfying those fit to have them.

But the timing of the decision was curious to some, as it follows a 2008 Supreme Court ruling that struck down parts of the gun-control law in the District of Columbia and subsequent challenges to gun laws in other places.

“If I were working for the mayor in New York, in the legal department particularly, I’d be saying: ‘Are we sure we can defend these laws? Are there things to do, ahead of time, that will make it easier for us to defend them?’ ” said Paul Helmke, the president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “I would be surprised if that were not the thinking.”

The announcement was an unexpected turn for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who has made national headlines with his efforts to take guns out of criminals’ hands and stem their trafficking, like using private investigators to pose as gun buyers in sting operations and suing gun dealers in several states.

A spokesman for the mayor said on Friday that despite Mr. Bloomberg’s continuing fight, he had never taken issue with legal gun ownership, a perspective that Colin Weaver, of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, said he was in sync with.

“The mayor is focused on crime control, not gun control,” said the Bloomberg spokesman, Jason Post. “He has no problem with people who want to go hunting. The issue is illegal guns that are killing people and, all too often, police officers.”

In New York, the Police Department issues licenses to possess handguns, rifles and shotguns in the city, and to carry them. The application process for a handgun is laid out on the department’s Web site. To get a gun, applicants must go to 1 Police Plaza. The fee is $340, not including a $94.25 fingerprint-check fee. Weeks of waiting can follow. There is also a process for license renewal.

Source: Al Baker for The New York Times.

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