ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – This weekend, New York State’s Red Flag law went into effect, establishing extreme risk protection orders when it comes to firearms.
This winter lawmakers approved a measure to allow police officers, school admins, and family or household members to seek a court order to keep firearms out of someone’s hands.
And, it didn’t come without debate.
Supporters of the legislation said it would increase safety and prevent tragedies from happening.
“Family and household members and school officials 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. In New York as in many states, law enforcement may not have the authority to intervene based on the evidence they’re provided with,” Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon (D-52nd District) said.
Opponents argued that the process could be misused, and that it could infringe on the 1st and 2nd amendment.
“If someone is making a terroristic threat, we have already found a way to address that in the law. When we’re starting to think about what people might be thinking, or things that they might be expressing then, we’re going to be chilling speech and I think that there’s going to be a grave over reaction here,” Assemblywoman Mary Beth Walsh (R-112th District) said.
The law specifically would give courts the discretion to make someone surrender firearms, shotguns and rifles if an ‘extreme risk’ is found.
An order can be issued if there’s probable cause to believe that the person is “likely to engage in conduct that would result in serious harm to himself, herself or others.”
New York passed the SAFE Act six years ago requiring universal background checks for gun purchases.