Vows to Pass Red Flag Bill, Preventing Individuals Who Show Signs of Being a Threat to Themselves or Others from Purchasing or Possessing Guns.
New York, NY - January 11, 2019 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today vowed passage of legislation in the first 100 days of the new legislative session to combat gun violence and make New York's gun laws even stronger. First, the Governor 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. This legislation builds on New York's strongest in the nation gun laws, and, if passed, would make New York the first in the United States to empower its teachers and school administrators to prevent school shootings by pursuing 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.
"The scourge of gun violence in our nation is one of the most pressing issues of our time, and we are not going to wait for the federal government to act on passing gun safety legislation," Governor Cuomo said. "New York already has the strongest gun safety laws in the nation, and we are taking additional steps to make our laws even stronger and keep our communities, and our schools, safe. Together, we will pass this common sense legislation and send a clear message to Washington that gun violence has no place in our state or nation."
"I traveled to schools across the state with Governor Cuomo this past summer to push for common sense gun safety measures like the Red Flag Bill," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, during remarks at the high school attended by Scott Beigel, the Long Island native who was killed during the Parkland shooting, as part of announcement of initiatives of the 2019 Justice Agenda. "We are continuing to rally for legislation that will further combat gun violence and keep guns out of the hands of people who can harm themselves and others. While the federal government fails to protect its citizens, New York will continue to lead the way and enact policies that help stop senseless gun violence and save lives."
Red Flag Bill
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 empowers its teachers and school administrators to prevent school shootings by pursuing court intervention.
The law would provide all necessary procedural safeguards to ensure that no firearm is removed without due process while ensuring that tragedies, like the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, are not repeated. In this mass shooting, the shooter was reported by multiple sources to be disturbed and dangerous yet was allowed to purchase and possess deadly firearms. In fact, more than half of all perpetrators of mass shootings exhibit warning signs before the shooting, according to a recent analysis. In these cases, an extreme risk protection order could have prevented countless, needless deaths.
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 2017 Las Vegas shooting that killed 58 people demonstrated the deadly consequences of bump stocks, which can be attached to semi-automatic weapons to simulate machine gunfire. 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
Governor Cuomo previously advanced legislation to establish a ten-day waiting period for individuals who are not immediately approved to purchase a firearm through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. 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. Oftentimes, by the time it has been determined that the potential purchaser was, in fact, ineligible, the individual has already been sold the firearm upon completion of the three-day waiting period. Extending the waiting period to ten days would allow sufficient time to complete the background check and builds on legislative efforts to ensure that only those eligible to purchase and own a firearm are able to do so.
"Saving lives from gun violence requires leaders like Governor Andrew Cuomo who have the courage to do what's right," said former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. "He's refused to give in to the gun lobby and continued to champion policies that have made New York a leader in addressing this public safety threat. That record continues today as he renews his efforts, with support from state lawmakers, to enact legislation that will better protect New York schools, streets, churches, and neighborhoods. We applaud Governor Cuomo for never backing down and will stand with him in fighting for this new legislation that will make New York communities safer."
Senator Brian Kavanagh said, "I have been proud to join Governor Cuomo in enacting the NY SAFE Act and other common-sense gun violence prevention policies throughout his administration. As Washington Republicans have refused again and again to take action to protect us, Governor Cuomo, our Democratic colleagues in the Senate and the Assembly, and I have remained committed to doing everything we can here in New York to save lives. I particularly appreciate the Governor's strong support for enacting extreme risk protection orders, a tool we've long sought that will keep guns out of the hands of people who are likely to harm themselves or others. I look forward to working out the bill's final language and passing this critical legislation promptly in the new session."
Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon said, "As mass shootings become commonplace, it is critical for New York to do everything we can to ensure the safety and security of our communities. Governor Cuomo's staunch commitment to gun safety serves as an example for the nation and I applaud him for his continued commitment to gun control. It is crucial that we pass the Extreme Risk Protection Orders, also known as the red flag law, in the upcoming legislative session and I look forward to the Governor signing it into law."
Assembly Member Patricia Fahy said, "While the federal government turns a blind eye toward mass shootings and gun related tragedies, New York is ready to continue to lead the way on gun safety. Governor Cuomo's common sense vision for gun control stands in stark contrast to the Trump administration, who is beholden to the NRA. I thank Governor Cuomo for his leadership and look forward to passing into law my legislation to permanently ban bump stocks in New York State - among other vital gun control measures we can act on this session."
Assembly Member Amy Paulin said, "Under the leadership of Governor Cuomo, New York State is answering the call for stronger gun safety legislation. After a year that witnessed the most school shootings in American history, it is incumbent upon us to take important, common sense measures to ensure New Yorkers are safe. Many of the mass shootings committed this year were carried out by individuals who should not have owned a gun in the first place. Governor Cuomo recognizes that purchasing a gun should not be an expedited process, and I applaud his call to extend the waiting period for purchasing a gun."
Under Governor Cuomo, New York has passed the strongest gun control laws in the nation, including the SAFE Act which keeps guns out of the hands of convicted felons and the dangerous mentally ill, ensures private gun sales are subject to a background check, bans high-capacity magazines and assault weapons, and toughens criminal penalties for illegal gun use. The Governor also recently enacted a law targeting the well-known link between domestic abuse and deadly gun violence.
The Governor has also championed evidence-based gun violence reduction efforts which have received national recognition, such as the Gun Involved Violence Elimination (GIVE) initiative and SNUG program, which together work to support both law enforcement agencies and community-based organizations in the prevention of shootings and homicides involving firearms.
Governor Cuomo led the creation of the "States for Gun Safety" coalition last year to combat the gun violence epidemic in the face of continued federal inaction. Together with New Jersey, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, New York State entered into an agreement to trace and intercept illegal guns, better share information on individuals prohibited from buying or owning firearms, and create the first-in-the-nation regional gun violence research consortium. Massachusetts, Delaware, and Puerto Rico have also joined the coalition, which now represents over 35 million Americans. Additionally, Governor Cuomo took on the NRA when no one else would, leading the fight to outlaw the NRA-branded "Carry Guard" insurance program, which provides illegal insurance coverage to gun owners for intentional criminal conduct resulting in bodily harm.