Governor signs Red Flag bill to prevent school shootings

Feb 26, 2019

Teachers and school administrators in New York State can now alert a judge about students who they worry could be a threat to themselves or others. Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the new anti-gun-violence measure into law Monday at a ceremony attended by survivors of gun violence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Linda Beigel Shulman, whose son was fatally shot in Parkland, FL in 2018, speaks for families affected by gun violence.

"I can now look up and say to my son, 'Scott, no matter how senseless, no matter how unspeakable, no matter how incomprehensible, your murder is going to save lives," said Linda Beigel Schulman, the mother of Long Island native Scott Beigel, who was killed along with 16 others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL in 2018. "Scott J. Beigel, we did it."

The measure, approved by the Democratic led Senate and Assembly earlier this month, creates what is known as an “extreme risk” protection order. It permits law enforcement, family members and school officials to go to court to seek the confiscation of the guns in the home of an individual that is determined to be a potential risk to themselves or to others.

“Parkland would have never happened and my son would still be alive,” Schulman said. “If Parkland had had the red flag law on Feb. 13, 2018."

Cuomo said the legislation, also known as the “red flag” bill, is a sensible provision.

“So when the teacher sees there is a problem or a family member sees there is a problem and believes that a person could be a danger to themselves or others, they can go to a judge and say, 'Judge, please do an evaluation,'” Cuomo said. “It is common sense. If you believe that was going to happen, why would you sit back and do nothing?"

Speaker Pelosi, playing off President Donald Trump’s recent declaration of a nation emergency over southern border immigration, said the epidemic of gun violence in the nation is dire.

“Mr. President, if you want to talk about emergencies, this is an emergency,” Pelosi said. “This gun violence issue is a national epidemic.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (center) signs the "red flag" gun control measure into law, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (left).
Credit Governor's Office

Pelosi said the Democratic-led house will later this week pass a national version of the “extreme risk” protection measure and a bill to fund gun violence research through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is expected to stall in the Republican-led U.S. Senate.

Several other gun control measures were also approved by the New York Senate and Assembly. They include extending the waiting period for background checks for gun purchases to 30 days, if the initial data search raises questions about the buyer.

A measure to outlaw the possession and sale of bump stocks was also approved. The device, which turns a semi-automatic weapon into essentially a machine gun, was used in the October 2017 Las Vegas shooting that killed 58 and injured 851. The use of bump stocks is already illegal in New York.

A third bill funds gun buy back programs. Cuomo is expected to sign the rest of the bills in the coming weeks.