Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie today announced the Assembly has passed legislation to prevent access to firearms, rifles and shotguns by individuals who have been determined by a court to be a danger to themselves or others.
"Establishing extreme risk protection orders is a critical step towards preventing needless gun tragedies that have become far too common," said Speaker Heastie. "Family and other household members are often the first to know when someone is experiencing a crisis or exhibiting dangerous behavior. We must make certain that when they voice their concerns, they are heard and the necessary precautions can be taken."
"Too often, in the aftermath of senseless gun violence, we hear from those who knew the individual that they saw warning signs for potential violence.," said Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon, sponsor of the bill. "Often, this includes school personnel who under current law are powerless to act. There has been no mechanism to prevent unthinkable tragedies such as suicide or interpersonal gun violence including school shootings. This legislation could help prevent these tragedies by providing a procedure for the removal of firearms from at-risk individuals, while still respecting an individual's right to due process."
Today's legislation would establish the ability of a court to issue a restraining order, known as an "extreme risk protection order," prohibiting a person who is a threat to themselves or others from purchasing or possessing a firearm for up to one year (A.11148, Simon). The petitioner, who could be a family member, law enforcement officer or a school official, would be required to file a sworn application describing the circumstances and justification for the request. Following a hearing, the court could grant the order if there is a finding, by clear and convincing evidence, that the individual in question is likely to engage in conduct that would result in serious harm to him or herself or others. In emergency circumstances, the court would also be authorized to issue a temporary order restricting access to firearms pending a final hearing.
Under the existing appeals procedure provided in the civil practice laws and rules, individuals would be permitted to appeal a court's decision to issue an extreme risk protection order. They would also be entitled to submit a request, at any time while the order is in place, for a hearing to discontinue the order based on a change of circumstances and a showing that the he or she no longer poses a danger.
The Assembly Majority has remained committed to reducing gun violence through sensible gun legislation and by maintaining and expanding access to mental health services.
In March, the Assembly passed a comprehensive package of common sense gun legislation aimed at protecting New Yorkers from gun violence. The package included legislation to establish a 10 day waiting period before delivering a firearm to a purchaser who has not cleared a background check in order to allow more time to conduct a more thorough check. It also included legislation that would ban the possession, manufacture, transport, shipment and sale of bump stocks.
Earlier this year, the enacted State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2018-19 Budget included another critical piece of legislation that requires domestic abusers to surrender all guns, including both handguns and long guns, closing a loophole in New York State law. The law went into effect on June 11, 2018.
The SFY 2018-19 Budget also included $250,000 to expand mental health services at community schools and $2 million for an Assembly initiative to support safe and supportive school environments free from bullying, harassment and discrimination. The enacted budget additionally restored $3.8 million in funding for school based health centers which provide physical and mental health care in high risk areas of New York State.
"The Assembly Majority fought tirelessly to ensure that the enacted budget included the funding that New York students need to receive an education in a safe and supportive environment. That has remained one of our top priorities," said Speaker Heastie. "We are proud that as a result of those efforts, the students who need these services most will have access to the physical and mental health care that they need, because we know that is how we make our schools safer."