With Passage of Extreme Risk Protection Order Bill, New York Would Be First State in the Nation to Empower Teachers and School Administrators to Prevent School Shootings by Pursuing Court Intervention.
Albany, NY - June 6, 2018 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced an extreme risk protection order law that would prevent individuals determined by a court to be likely to engage in conduct that would result in serious harm to themselves or others from purchasing, possessing, or attempting to purchase or possess any type of firearm, including hand guns, rifles, or shotguns. Building on New York's already strongest in the nation gun laws, this legislation, which builds on prior legislative efforts, would make New York the first state in the nation to empower its teachers and school administrators to prevent school shootings by pursuing court intervention.
"While the conservative leadership in Washington remains immobilized by the NRA, in New York we refuse to be intimidated by the gun lobby and will continue to take action to protect the people of our state," Governor Cuomo said. "Across the nation, students and communities are taking to the streets to demand change, and we are once again picking up the mantle of leadership from Washington with common sense measures to target the roots of school shootings, and prevent gun violence, tragedies and heartbreak."
The Governor was joined by Randi Weingarten, AFT President, Andy Pallotta, NYSUT President, Michael Mulgrew, UFT President, Rebecca Fischer, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence Executive Director, Aalayah Eastmond, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student and representatives from March For Our Lives and Moms Demand Action to announce this landmark reform. This announcement is part of Gun Violence Awareness Month.
"By expanding background checks and extreme risk protection orders, New York is once again demonstrating the leadership we need to address our nationwide epidemic of gun violence," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "These bold actions take the next step forward and address the continued threat of gun violence. No person should ever fear going to school, or a concert, or a house of worship. While Washington refuses to act to save lives, New York will lead the way to enact commonsense reforms to prevent senseless tragedy."
Establishing Extreme Risk Protection Orders to Save Lives
Under current state law, firearms may be removed from a person subject to a temporary order of protection issued by a criminal or family court, but a court can only issue a temporary order of protection in connection with a criminal or family offense proceeding. 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 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.
This shortcoming in the law persists, despite the fact that family members often contact law enforcement when they fear that a loved one poses a threat of violence to others or themselves. 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 and the mass killing at the Waffle House in Nashville, Tennessee are not repeated. In both of those cases, the shooter was reported by multiple sources to be disturbed and dangerous yet was allowed to purchase and possess deadly firearms. An extreme risk protection order could have prevented countless, needless deaths.
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. These notifications include "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.
AFT President Randi Weingarten said, "I've spoken with many educators in Parkland, Florida and heard repeatedly that the shooter showed clear signs that he was a troubled soul. It's no surprise as the Brady Campaign reports 42 percent of mass shooters exhibit warning signs beforehand. That's why the legislation Governor Cuomo is proposing today is so important as a part of combatting the gun violence epidemic and protecting students and teachers. Schools should be safe sanctuaries, not armed fortresses. Teachers don't want to be armed, we want to teach and we want to protect kids. This smart new law would empower educators and school staff to act and be heard when they suspect danger while still protecting students' due process right. We're proud to stand with the Governor to announce today's proposal."
Michael Mulgrew, President of the United Federation of Teachers, said, "Our children and educators have to be safe in school. If Washington DC won't take on the gun lobby, we here in New York will."
Mark Cannizzaro, President of the Council of Supervisors and Administrators, said, "Gun violence has plagued our nation for too long, and federal gun control legislation is long overdue. While the federal government ignores this tragic issue, Governor Cuomo has time and again enacted real change to protect New Yorkers. By raising the age to own a firearm to 21, this common sense legislation will protect our children and the general public. Our nation is at a crossroads, and I am proud to stand with Governor Cuomo."
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. The GIVE initiative provides funding to support technical assistance, training, equipment, and personnel - such as prosecutors and crime analysts - to help local law enforcement agencies reduce gun violence in the 17 counties outside of New York City that experience the majority of violent crime. The SNUG program provides funding and training for community-based organizations that manage street outreach programs in 11 communities where individuals disrupt the cycle of gun violence by responding when disputes escalate within their community and connecting high-risk individuals with essential social and support services.
In addition to continued progress to New York's gun laws and efforts, Governor Cuomo led the creation of the "States for Gun Safety" coalition earlier this 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.