Stronger gun control bills ready for vote in Albany Tuesday
ALBANY — State legislators on Tuesday plan to approve a series of long-stalled gun-control measures, such as the so-called red flag bill that would allow a court to prohibit people deemed dangerous to themselves or others from owning firearms.
Others on the docket include banning “bump stocks,” authorizing a new gun buyback program, prohibiting school districts from arming teachers and lengthening the amount of time allowed for background checks on would-be gun purchases.
All of the measures had been blocked for years by the Republican-led state Senate. Democrats, after winning Senate control in last year’s elections, are rapidly moving on a host of issues, including abortion, early voting, college aid and teacher evaluations.
They had promised, as well, to make gun control a priority.
“We are taking action that will keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, ensure safe storage of guns, keep our schools safer and give law enforcement the proper tools to help stop this growing gun crime epidemic,” Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) said.
“Thoughts and prayers are not enough for the victims of gun violence and their families. We need to act," added Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx).
The “red flag” bill follows the lead of California and other states amid the increase in mass shootings. It would permit family members, teachers, school officials and police to petition a judge when they fear someone is dangerous and has access to firearms.
”Family and household members are very often the first to know when someone is experiencing a crisis or exhibiting dangerous behavior. Many even report their fears to law enforcement,” the bill's sponsors, Sen. Brian Kavanagh (D-Manhattan) and Assemb. Jo Anne Simon (D-Brooklyn), said in a memo supporting the legislation.
“In New York, as in many other states, law enforcement officers may not have the authority to intervene based on the evidence they are provided with,” they added. “Enacting extreme risk protection orders in New York State, while still respecting an individual's right to due process, will be a step forward in prevention of needless gun tragedies.”
Senate Republicans, now in the minority, didn't immediately comment Friday. Last year, they insisted that any red-flag bill be coupled with a GOP proposal to increase the number of armed "resource officers" in schools that want them.
Another bill on the agenda Tuesday would prohibit schools from arming teachers. Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) said New York, in doing so, is purposely going against a trend in other states.
“Schools all over the country have begun to arm teachers. This is something New York wants to take a stand on and say, ‘Not here,’” Kaminsky said.
He noted the bill would continue to allow school districts to allow armed, licensed security guards.
The background check bill would provide more time before a gun must be delivered to the purchaser, according to the bill memo. Instead of a maximum three days, it would be 10.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, also a Democrat, has expressed support for the gun bills on the legislative agenda, signaling that he’ll all but certainly sign them.