Governor Takes Statewide Bus Tour to White Plans High School in Solidarity With Students, Teachers, and School Administrators, and in Support of Common Sense Gun Reform
Westchester County Leaders Endorse Legislation Advanced By Governor Cuomo to Empower Teachers and School Administrators to Prevent School Shootings By Pursuing Court Intervention
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today stopped in Westchester County as part of the statewide campaign to pass the Red Flag Gun Protection Bill, which kicked off Monday, June 11 on Long Island and in the Bronx. The Red Flag Protection Bill, also known as the Extreme Risk Protection Order Bill, was advanced by the Governor last week. The bus tour stopped at White Plains High School today to bring together local elected officials, school staff and students in support of the bill. In addition, Westchester County leaders endorsed the bill, which would prevent individuals determined by a court to have the potential to cause themselves or others serious harm from purchasing, possessing, or attempting to purchase or possess any type of firearm, including hand guns, rifles, or shotguns. This legislation builds on New York's strongest in the nation gun laws and prior legislative efforts, and, if passed, would make New York the first in the United States to empower its teachers and school administrators to prevent school shootings by pursuing court intervention.
"New York will not stand by and wait for Washington to take action against the gun violence and school shootings that have become all too common in this country," Governor Cuomo said. "Parents should not have to fear sending their children to school every day and teachers should not have to wonder if they will return home from work. Together, we can and will pass this common sense gun legislation and we will continue to fight to ensure gun violence has no place in this great state."
"If a fellow colleague or student poses a demonstrable threat or danger to others, we should not enable them to own a gun," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "With this legislation, we're continuing our push for common sense gun measures by providing teachers and administrators with a right to report and possibly prevent a terrible tragedy. Gun violence has had an enormous toll on our communities, and New York is leading the nation in an effort to protect our students and save lives."
The following Westchester County leaders endorsed the Extreme Risk Protection Order:
- Westchester County Executive George Latimer
- Westchester Legislature Majority Leader Catherine Parker
- Westchester Legislature Chairman Ben Boykin
- Westchester District Attorney Anthony Scarpino
- White Plains Mayor Tom Roach
New York will not stand by and wait for Washington to take action against the gun violence and school shootings that have become all too common in this country.
Establishing Extreme Risk Protection Orders to Save Lives
Under current state law, firearms may be removed from a person subject to a temporary order of protection issued by a criminal or family court, but a court can only issue a temporary order of protection in connection with a criminal or family offense proceeding. No law currently exists in New York State that enables a court to issue an order to temporarily seize firearms from a person who is believed to pose a severe threat of harm to himself, herself, or others unless that person has also been accused of a crime or family offense.
This shortcoming in the law persists, despite the fact that family members often contact law enforcement when they fear that a loved one poses a threat of violence to others or themselves. In addition, no state in the nation currently empowers its teachers and school administrators to prevent school shootings by pursuing court intervention.
The law would provide all necessary procedural safeguards to ensure that no firearm is removed without due process while ensuring that tragedies like the school shooting in Parkland, Florida and the mass killing at the Waffle House in Nashville, Tennessee are not repeated. In both of those cases, the shooter was reported by multiple sources to be disturbed and dangerous yet was allowed to purchase and possess deadly firearms. An extreme risk protection order could have prevented countless, needless deaths.
Extending the Background Check Waiting Period
Governor Cuomo previously advanced legislation to establish a ten-day waiting period for individuals who are not immediately approved to purchase a firearm through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Current federal law requires gun dealers to conduct the NICS background check on a potential purchaser prior to selling a firearm, which immediately provides the dealer with one of three possible notifications. These notifications include "proceed," "denied," or "delayed." In the case of a "delayed" response, the dealer must wait three days before the sale is eligible to go through, even though the FBI continues to investigate these individuals past the three-day timeframe. Oftentimes, by the time it has been determined that the potential purchaser was, in fact, ineligible, the individual has already been sold the firearm upon completion of the three-day waiting period. Extending the waiting period to ten days would allow sufficient time to complete the background check and builds on legislative efforts to ensure that only those eligible to purchase and own a firearm are able to do so.
Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon said, "When a person exhibits warning signs that they pose a risk of serious harm to themselves or others, teachers, school administrators and family members often observe these signs firsthand. But in New York, even if these concerns are reported, law enforcement may have no authority to act and help prevent gun violence tragedies. A temporary Extreme Risk Order of Protection would restrict a person's access to firearms if they pose a serious risk, while providing due process protections and the right to appeal. I applaud Governor Cuomo for taking on this issue and advancing this legislation. It will save lives."
American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said, "The Governor's Red Flag Bill is the first of its kind to include educators, who know their students and their schools best. It will ensure we can alert authorities when someone shows signs of being a serious threat to themselves or others. Governor Cuomo's work on this is in stark contrast to the lack of leadership we've seen from the White House. When it comes to finding real solutions to the gun violence epidemic, this proposal stands up for the safety of kids, their educators, and communities, as opposed to the president and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who are promoting an idea - arming teachers - which may help gun manufacturers make a buck, but will make schools less safe. I'm proud to be on this tour and visiting White Plains to help make sure this bill becomes law."
Westchester County Executive George Latimer said, "Enough is enough. We have to empower teachers, school officials, family members and police officers - those who have close contact to the young people- to raise a red flag if they see concerning behavior. This is common sense. We need to take steps to protect others and our schools and we need to do it now."
Westchester Legislature Majority Leader Catherine Parker said, "How many shootings will it take for change to happen? We have experienced too many tragedies in the past decade and far too many this year alone. Governor Cuomo wants put an end to mass shootings with the passing of the Red Flag Gun Protection Bill, to make sure no more innocent lives are lost because a gun fell into the wrong hands. I commend Governor Cuomo for fighting for our children's safety as he works to create real change in a world where innocent people are becoming victims to avoidable gun violence."
Westchester Legislature Chairman Ben Boykin said, "Our young students have been ignored by our elected leaders for too long, and I am proud that in New York our Governor is stepping up to fill the void and take action when the federal government will not. Too many innocent lives have been lost as a result of gun violence. The bill advanced by Governor Cuomo is a game changer for both students and teachers and will help protect our schools for generations to come."
Westchester District Attorney Anthony Scarpino said, "We commend Governor Cuomo for joining us in calling on the legislature to enact the Extreme Risk Protection Order law immediately. The safety of our residents is our first concern. Often it is families and teachers who see the first red flags that someone is in crisis and may be a danger to others and themselves. Let's not wait until a tragedy happens here in Westchester to act. New York State needs a Red Flag law now before we lose another life."
White Plains Mayor Tom Roach said, "As a mayor, my primary responsibility is keeping the people in my city safe. Governor Cuomo has led the way in sensible gun policies and the proposed legislation will help to further protect the people of the State of New York from gun violence. Keeping firearms out of the hands of those who should not have them is a basic concept that the vast majority of Americans support. I am proud to stand with Governor Cuomo in his effort to enact this important legislation."
White Plains School Superintendent Joseph Ricca said, "I applaud Governor Cuomo for giving New York's educators a viable means to step in when they believe a troubled student may have access to firearms. Gun violence has destroyed countless communities who continue to mourn the loss of innocent lives and we cannot sit by and wait for a tragedy like this to happen in New York. This legislation serves to protect our children from being victims of gun violence--at the hands of others or themselves--and offer help to those suffering from mental illness."
Rockland Moms Demand Action Leader Shari Maurer said, "The Extreme Risk Protection Order is a much-needed law in New York. I think the governor's addition of educators to the list of people who can go to a judge to take guns away from those who are a risk to themselves and others is an important enhancement to the law."
Westchester Coordinator for New Yorkers Against Gun Violence Chuck Bell said, "The Extreme Risk Protection Order bill proposed by Gov. Cuomo will give New Yorkers a vital, proactive tool to help prevent needless tragedies. In 42 percent of 156 mass shootings between 2009 and 2016, the shooter conveyed warning signs in advance of the fatal shooting, demonstrating danger to themselves or others. But even when parents, family members or teachers report their fears to law enforcement, police may not have the authority to intervene. This bill would enable family members and teachers to petition a court to suspend the dangerous person's access to guns, to help keep our kids and communities safe."