Brooklyn Boro

New York ‘Red Flag’ gun bill signed by Cuomo

Brooklyn Officials Simon and Kavanagh Major Backers

February 27, 2019 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Eagle
Photo by Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
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After years of effort from Brooklyn officials, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a “red flag” gun control bill into New York state law on Monday. The legislation is meant to keep guns out of the hands of potentially dangerous individuals.

The Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) bill was introduced in Albany by Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon (D-Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn Heights) and state Sen. Brian Kavanagh (D-Western Brooklyn, Downtown Manhattan), along with state Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Hells Kitchen) in January.

Cuomo had promised to sign the bill within the first 100 days of the new legislative session. He was joined in the ceremony by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Linda Beigel Schulman, whose son, Scott Beigel, was shot while trying to save his students in the Parkland, Florida, massacre last year.

The governor praised Kavanagh and Simon for laying the groundwork for the twin bills during previous legislative sessions, when Democrats were not in the majority and the measure failed to pass.

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“There is one situation when you’re in the minority and you’re passing a bill that really isn’t going to pass, but you’re passing it to make a point. It’s a much different exercise when you’re passing a bill and you’re in the majority and it can actually pass,” Cuomo said. “And Sen. Kavanagh and Assemblymember Simon were masterful in making government work.”

Pelosi also saluted Kavanagh and Simon, “and all of the state legislators who are here, thank you for your courage in passing the legislation.”

“So when the teacher sees there is a problem or a family member sees there is a problem, and believes that a person could be a danger to themselves or others they can go to a judge and say, ‘Judge, please do an evaluation.’ It is common sense,” Pelosi said.

How ERPO Works

ERPO would allow family members or law enforcement officials in New York state to petition a state court to issue an order preventing the accused person from buying or possessing guns, even before a crime is committed.

If the court agrees the accused is likely to harm themselves or others, they would be required to surrender their guns, and police would be sent to search their home or apartment in order to confiscate their firearms.

The complaining family member or law enforcement officials would have to provide clear documentation to back up their claims, according to the language of the bill. This could include a threat or the use of physical force, a violation of an order of protection, weapons offenses or charges, the reckless display of a firearm or evidence of alcohol or drug abuse.

The order would last for one year, and the accused person would have one opportunity during that year to present evidence to the court as to why the order should be lifted. If the order is not renewed or if it is lifted, the guns would be returned.

Critics worry about a lack of due process and say that courts could deprive gun owners of their rights without a trial. Sponsors say the language of the bill protects people who are unfairly accused.

“There is a serious risk that citizens found guilty of nothing and charged with no crime will be paying expensive fees to petition the courts to restore what should be their constitutionally guaranteed rights,” economist Raheem Williams commented on Intellectual Takeout. Williams is founder of The Policy, a nonprofit public policy forum.

Backers say, however, if Florida had a law like this in place, tragedies like the Parkland massacre might have been prevented.

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