New York's Red Flag Law Hits The Books Saturday

Mike Smeltz
August 22, 2019 - 2:10 pm
Pelosi, Cuomo Red Flag Bill Signing

Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- New rules that would take guns away from a person who is a potential danger to themselves or others goes into effect Saturday in New York.

New York's extreme risk protection order known as a "red flag law" allows someone — a family member, police officer, school administrator — to go to court to have a gun or guns removed a person they fear may harm themselves or others. 

The core process is quick, taking about a day from filing to decision, reports WCBS 880's Mike Smeltz.

Brooklyn Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon said under New York's red flag law, a person must prove in court using hard evidence that someone is a threat.

"This is not a bill that will just go and have law enforcement come to your door and take away your firearms," Simon said. 

This law does not address mental illness; the focus is on stopping predictable gun violence overall.

"Many, many shooters are not people who would be diagnosed with a mental illness, but they are angry, many of them are hateful and many of them are also fueled by alcohol and drugs," Simon said.

New York state Sen. Brian Kavanagh said the new law is about behavior.

"Behavior that is threatening, behavior that is violent, substance abuse, there are other things that have been demonstrated by social scientists to be predictive of violence and danger," Kavanagh said. 

These types of red flag laws have proven to be significant deterrents when it comes to gun violence. While a significant number of red flag cases will be about preventing harm against others, Kavanagh said the law is also about protecting at-risk people from themselves.

"It's been proven to reduce suicide as a direct result," he said. "For every 10 orders issued, about 1 suicide death has been avoided in both Connecticut and Indiana."

The bill was approved in January along with other measures that ban bump stocks, extend the waiting period from three to 30 days for inconclusive background checks and allow mental health background checks on gun buyers from outside New York.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed it into law a month later.