Governor Cuomo pushing for stronger gun laws for New York State

Local News

Governor Cuomo is pushing for stronger gun legislation in his first 100 days of the new legislative session.

The Governor has vowed to pass the Red Flag Bill, also known as the extreme risk protection order bill, which would prevent individuals who show signs of being a threat to themselves or others from purchasing or possessing any kind of firearm. If passed, this legislation would make New York the first in the United States to allow its teachers and school administrators to pursue court intervention.

In addition, the Governor will push to ban bump stocks and extend the background check waiting period for purchasing guns from three to ten days.

Red Flag Bill

According to the Governor’s Office, no law currently exists in New York State that enables a court to issue an order to temporarily seize firearms from a person who is showing red flags, like violent behavior, or is believed to pose a severe threat of harm to himself, herself, or others unless that person has also been accused of a crime or family offense. In addition, no state in the nation currently authorizes its teachers and school administrators to pursue court intervention to prevent school shootings. 

Governor Cuomo previously advanced the legislation to keep guns away from individuals who pose a danger with the launch of a statewide campaign to pass the Red Flag Gun Protection Bill last June. The campaign included a series of bus tours to schools across the state to stand in solidarity with students, teachers and school administrators who support the bill and other common sense gun reform.

Ban Bump Stocks

The Governor’s Office is also urging for the passage of legislation that would ban bump stocks, saying bump stocks serve no legitimate purposes for hunters or sportsmen and only cause unpredictable and accelerated gun fire. There is no reason to allow for their continued sale in New York State.

Extending the Background Check Waiting Period

Lastly, the governor is pushing for legislation that would extend the waiting period for background checks to ten days, saying it will allow sufficient time to complete the background check and build on efforts to ensure that only those eligible to purchase and own a firearm are able to do so.

Current federal law requires gun dealers to conduct the NICS background check on a potential purchaser prior to selling a firearm, which immediately provides the dealer with one of three possible notifications: “proceed”, “denied”, or “delayed”. In the case of a “delayed” response, the dealer must wait three days before the sale is eligible to go through, even though the FBI continues to investigate these individuals past the three-day timeframe.

Ernest Flagler Mitchell, a Monroe County legislator says he supports the Red Flag Bill. 

“If you see someone making comments, you can go to a judge and if they see fit, they can seize their weapons temporarily,” said Mitchell.
 

Cuomo’s statement says that this bill is designed to prevent another shooting like in Parkland, Florida where the “shooter was reported by multiple sources to be disturbed and dangerous yet was allowed to purchase and possess deadly firearms.”

Cuomo assures that the bill would include safeguards for citizens’ due process rights. 

Flagler agrees, saying “the law clearly says you take the gun from them temporarily and before you can do that a judge has to decide if you can take the gun or not.”

Mental health advocates feel this could have some unintended consequences including infringing on civil rights, if not implemented correctly. The ACLU has opposed these kinds of laws in the past as well, saying that these types of laws “would do little to stem gun violence but do much to harm civil rights and potentially lead to discrimination against those with mental health issues.”

“We would caution in the planning or execution of the legislation that we’re being careful about how people are being identified,” said Chacku Mathai, with the Mental Health Association in Rochester. 

Mathai worries it could also discourage some from seeking help who need it, adding, “the feedback we often receive is concern about whether or not people who are already experiencing mental health needs if they’re worried about being judged as violent.”

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