Hosts First of Three Conferences across the State to Educate Teachers, School Administrators and Parent Representatives on New Gun Safety Law - Including How and When to File Extreme Risk Protection Orders
New Website and Informational Call Center to Help Educators and Families Determine Whether a Student is at Risk of Harming Themselves or Others
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today launched a statewide education campaign on New York's new Red Flag gun safety law. The Governor hosted the first of three conferences to help teachers, school administrators and parent representatives understand the new law and how to use it to keep schools safe. The law, part of the nation's strongest gun laws, establishes a new civil procedure that allows a concerned family member, school official or member of law enforcement to obtain a court order - known as an Extreme Risk Protection Order - to remove and keep guns away from individuals who pose a serious risk of harm to themselves or others. This court order specifically prohibits a person from purchasing or possessing a firearm, rifle or shotgun while the order is in effect. The new law became effective August 24, 2019. Additional conferences are planned for later this fall in Manhattan and Albany.
The Governor also launched a call center and a new website offering information and links to step-by-step instructions about how to apply for an Extreme Risk Protection Order. The call center will be staffed by individuals trained to answer inquiries from family members, police and educators. These staff members will have access to extensive resources and contact information for local law enforcement, school officials, the court system, and mental health agencies to ensure callers are referred to the appropriate services. The call center, which is now open, can be reached at 877-NYS-0101 and will be operated Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
"This common-sense gun safety measure can save lives and today is about understanding how to use it," Governor Cuomo said. "When we get to a point as a society where we are designing schools in anticipation of an active shooter scenario, something is seriously wrong. Here in New York we have passed the strongest gun protection laws in the nation to keep people safe, and they work. With the Red Flag law, we are empowering educators and parents who believe an individual may be dangerous to themselves or others to take action for the safety of their community."
Among those in attendance at the Governor's Red Flag law conference at Farmingdale College on Long Island were representatives of the New York State Police, the State Office of Mental Health, the State Department of Health and the State Education Department as well as the Office of Court Administration, local educators, law enforcement and gun safety advocates. The expert panelists explained the warning signs of an individual that may pose a threat to themselves or others and the process for accessing and filing an Extreme Risk Protection Order application. Attendees were encouraged to contact their local law enforcement partners to guide and assist them with the application process.
"This common-sense gun safety measure can save lives and today is about understanding how to use it."
New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, "As defenders of public health and New York State's children, we must do everything we can to ensure that our schools and communities are safe from gun violence. The Red Flag Law Governor Cuomo signed earlier this year allows school leaders to preemptively flag behaviors known to be risk factors and warning signs of violence and courts to quickly act to block access to firearms and save lives."
New York State Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan said, "Governor Cuomo's Red Flag law will save lives by keeping guns out of the hands of people who are at imminent risk of harming themselves or others. This is a common-sense approach to public safety that will help protect our children and our communities."
New York State Police Superintendent Keith M. Corlett said, "The Red Flag law gives law enforcement, family members and school administrators the ability to step in and prevent violence before it occurs. The State Police encourages the public to remain observant of suspicious activities in their schools or communities. By reporting relevant information, we can all help prevent tragedies from occurring."
Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said, "New York's strong gun laws have contributed to Long Island's historically low rates of violent crime, and Extreme Risk Protection Orders are an important new tool to make our communities even safer with a procedure to remove guns from those likely to harm themselves or others. I commend Governor Cuomo and the legislature for their leadership, and thank the thousands of dedicated advocates who have worked so tirelessly to pass this life-saving law."
Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini said, "This gives us another tool in the toolbox to protect our most vulnerable populations and prevent violence from occurring. I thank Governor Cuomo for diligently pursuing this law to keep New Yorkers safe."
Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said, "The Suffolk County Police Department continues to work with the Suffolk County Superintendents Association and all our partners in law enforcement to ensure the safety of children in our schools. We will continue to diligently work with our region's educators and stakeholders to further enhance school safety measures, and are committed to working with Governor Cuomo to provide the necessary resources to help prevent senseless tragedies and keep the residents of Suffolk County safe."
Extreme Risk Protection Order
An Extreme Risk Protection Order, or ERPO, may only be issued by the Supreme Court of the county where the subject lives upon the sworn application of a:
- Police officer
- District Attorney
- Family or household member
- Principal or another qualified school official designated by the Principal
Some of the following characteristics may indicate an individual's near term risk for violent behavior against oneself or others:
- Making threats of violence
- Taking steps towards enabling violent threats
- A history of perpetrating violence
- Bringing a weapon to school
- Recent intensification of anger and impulsiveness
If educators or parents fear a child poses an immediate risk to themselves or others, they should:
- Involve law enforcement. While statute allows school officials to apply directly to the court for an ERPO, schools should contact local law enforcement with relevant information.
- Take immediate measures to protect yourself or others. In the case of a threat of violence, call 911.
- Alert authorities to notify any intended target of violence.
- Consult with school authorities or call law enforcement to determine if an ERPO is appropriate.
- The ERPO application and all supporting documents are available on the Office of Court Administration's (OCA) website: http://ww2.nycourts.gov/erpo.
- The application must include facts supporting the request for an ERPO. The legal standard the court will apply is probable cause.
- Possible facts to check off on the application include:
- Threats or acts of violence
- Violations or alleged violations of an order of protection
- Pending charge or conviction for an offense involving the use of a weapon
- Reckless use or display of a gun
- Any history of violating an ERPO
- Recent or ongoing substance abuse (within 6 months)
- Recent acquisition of a gun, ammunition or deadly weapon (within 6 months).
Issuance of an ERPO
- A temporary ERPO may be issued immediately upon the submission of an application, if the court determines there is probable cause to believe the person is likely to engage in conduct that would result in serious harm to anyone.
- If the court issues a temporary ERPO, it must hold a hearing within 3-6 business days to determine wethther to issue a final ERPO.
- Final ERPOs are effective for up to 1 year, after which they may be renewed
- Whenever an ERPO is issued (temporary or final), the court must suspend any firearm license issued to the subject of an ERPO.
- The issuing court may order police to search for guns in the subjects possession, including those located within a residence.
Coordination and Safeguards
- The issuing court must notify and produce copies of the ERPO to the New York State Police, the Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), local law enforcement, and local firearm licensing officers.
- DCJS is required to immediately report the issuance of ERPO to the FBI for entry into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). This will prevent respondent from purchasing guns while the order is in effect.
Strongest Gun Safety Laws in the Nation
Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, New York has passed the strongest gun control laws in the nation, including the SAFE Act in 2013 which keeps guns out of the hands of convicted felons and individuals with a mental illness who are deemed a danger to themselves or others, 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.
Since the passage of the SAFE Act, State officials have received 142,774 reports from mental health professionals intended to keep weapons away from people with mental illnesses who are deemed by a mental health professional to be likely to "engage in conduct that will cause serious harm to self or others." These reports - which represent nearly 100,000 people with a potentially dangerous mental disposition - are used to notify appropriate local licensing officials who suspend or revoke weapon licenses and prompt local law enforcement officials to remove weapons that are not surrendered.
New York State passed the SAFE Act six years ago and it has worked. No legal gun owners' rights have been violated but unnecessary, dangerous weapons are off the streets and dangerous individuals are prohibited from purchasing guns.
The Governor continued to build on New York's nation-leading gun laws this year with comprehensive legislation to: extend the background check waiting period; ban bump stocks; ban undetectable guns; expand firearm safe storage laws; prevent school districts from arming teachers; and establish statewide regulations for gun buyback programs.