New York Senators Brian Kavanagh and Brad Hoylman, Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon, the authors of New Yorks new Extreme Risk Protection Order law (ERPO, also known as the Red Flag law), announced that, after years of advocacy, the law will go into effect across the state on Saturday, August 24 giving New Yorkers an important new way to prevent gun violence when theres evidence that someone is likely to harm themselves or others.
They were joined by Manhattan DA Cy Vance, Jr., Co-Chair of the national organization Prosecutors Against Gun Violence, Bronx DA Darcel Clark, other District Attorneys offices, Senator Kevin Parker and Assemblymember Deborah Glick, Rebecca Fischer of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, school attorneys, doctors, mental health advocates, Giffords, Everytown for Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action, the Brady Campaign, and other legislators. In addition, Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler, President of the District Attorneys Association of New York, which includes the DAs of all 62 counties in the state, as well as the heads of the associations composed respectively of the states sheriffs, school boards, and school superintendents all made statements (below) in support of effective implementation of ERPO.
The ERPO bill (S2451/A2689) creates a new type of court-issued order of protection that temporarily prohibits individuals from purchasing or possessing guns if a family or household member, District Attorney, law enforcement officer, or school administrator petitions a court and the court finds that an individual is likely to engage in conduct that would harm themselves or others. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have adopted ERPO laws, and there is growing evidence that they can be effective at preventing suicides, mass shootings, and other instances of gun violence.
Experience in other jurisdictions suggests that effective implementation of ERPO laws depends substantially on the readiness of the courts and the officials who are authorized to seek the orders, as well as public awareness. The officials at the press conference discussed the preparations of the courts in New York and their respective agencies and organizations.
Senator Kavanagh also announced the creation of a task force that will include the Office of Court Administration, representatives of the States executive and legislative branches, the DAs, the school attorneys, gun violence prevention experts, and those engaged in public awareness efforts in New York, all of whom will work together to share best practices, ensure the law is properly implemented, and monitor the results.
For more information on ERPOs in New York, and how to ask for one, please visit www.nycourts.gov/CourtHelp/Safety/extremeRisk.shtml.
Senator Brian Kavanagh (Manhattan and Brooklyn), prime sponsor of the law and Chair of the American State Legislators for Gun Violence Prevention, said: Saturday, August 24th is a big day for everyone who joined the effort we began in 2014 to empower New Yorkers to save lives with Extreme Risk Protection Orders. Now our success in reducing gun-related deaths and injuries will depend upon our ability to make sure everyone is aware of the new law not only judges, district attorneys, police officers, and educators, but also the general public who may become aware that someone close to them poses a danger to themselves or others. I look forward to working with my colleagues in government and everyone who is committed to ending gun violence in New York, to make the most of the new law. I thank Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon, Senator Brad Hoylman, Senate Leader Andrea-Stewart Cousins, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, our legislative colleagues who supported the bill, Governor Andrew Cuomo, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, and all the advocates who worked hard to see this day finally come. Our work begins anew on Saturday.
Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon (Brooklyn) said: People are sick of the excuses that have made gun violence par for the course in this country. In fact, it is not normal and it is a uniquely American problem. New York is taking action and on August 24th, the Extreme Risk Protection Order legislation goes into effect. It will prevent tragedies by providing a civil legal mechanism to restrict access to firearms for those who pose a serious risk of harm to themselves or others. Im proud to stand with Senator Kavanagh and the ERPO coalition to announce that the law is effective, the courts are ready, and that a task force will ensure effective implementation.
President of the District Attorneys Association of New York, Orange County DA David Hoovler said: "Under this new law, a court can issue an Extreme Risk Protection Order against someone who possesses or has access to certain types of guns if they are likely to hurt themselves or others. While I fully support an individual's constitutional right to bear arms, unfortunately we know too well that there are individuals who exhibit behavior that indicates that they are likely to seriously harm themselves or others. It is important that police, school administrators and prosecutors understand the changes to the law, who can file a petition and how to file a petition."
Manhattan District Attorney and National Co-Chair of Prosecutors Against Gun Violence Cy Vance, Jr. said: Red Flag Laws recognize that we have to prevent gun violence, not just prosecute it after the fact when people are already wounded or killed. This is why we need Red Flag Laws in all 50 states, and why Prosecutors Against Gun Violence, the national group that I cofounded, has been working to enact them across the country since 2015. I thank Senator Kavanagh, Assemblymember Simon, and steadfast advocates like New Yorkers Against Gun Violence for their years of work on this critical legislation, which empowers families and communities throughout our state to prevent gun violence and save lives.
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said: I welcome the Extreme Risk Protection Order law, which will help keep our families safe from gun violence, especially in cases of domestic disputes as a gun in the home is often an indicator of heightened risk of violence. Prosecutors often have the most information about the need to remove a certain firearm and, when appropriate, my Office is ready to file such applications while ensuring that every individuals due process rights are protected.
Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark said, I am proud and pleased to stand here today with State Senator Brian Kavanagh, Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon, and my colleagues in the Extreme Risk Protection Orders Coalition to herald the NYS Red Flag Law taking effect two days from now. I have supported this law because it can only help save lives; there is no downside. No one can argue against a law that respects due process while it removes a threat to human life.
Whether it is a mass shooting or a single person lost to gun violence, we need to do everything possible to prevent needless, senseless deaths.
Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas said: When law enforcement, mental health professionals or families know that a gun owner poses a threat to themselves or others, this law will provide a lifesaving tool to restrict gun access. Thanks to Senator Kavanagh and Assemblymember Simon, we now have a legal mechanism to intervene before tragedy strikes. Extreme Risk Protection Orders will save lives and allow law enforcement to remove firearms from people who may hurt themselves or others. New York has shown great leadership in the battle against gun violence and I encourage lawmakers around the country to implement this life-saving law in your state.
Queens Acting District Attorney John M. Ryan said: This office has supported the Extreme Risk Protection Order law from the start. This law will help keep all New Yorkers safe from senseless gun violence while also protecting the rights of law-abiding citizens and peaceful gun owners. It is crucial that we have this kind of legislation in place at a time when more and more mass shootings are occurring across this country. When there is evidence that an individual is potentially at a high risk of injuring others, appropriate measures must be taken to keep all of us safe from harm.
State Senator Brad Hoylman (Manhattan) said: Thanks to the tireless efforts of Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Senator Kavanagh, Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon, Governor Cuomo, and advocates from across the state, New York States ERPO law is about to go into effect. I am incredibly proud to have been the co-prime sponsor of this legislation. At a time when we cant count on our President to respond to two mass shootings in 24 hours with any real proposals to prevent gun violence, it is more important than ever that New York step up to the plate and do whats necessary.
State Senator Shelley B. Mayer (Westchester) said: Today is a historic day not only for New York State but for the nation. New Yorks Red Flag Law is more than just a common sense gun safety measure it is hope for advocates throughout the nation that we can overcome our political differences to adopt meaningful gun safety measures and avoid the horrific events countless communities have had to endure. We can have many discussions about the causes of gun violence, but what we can all agree to is that someone who is adjudicated to be a danger to themselves or others should not have access to dangerous weapons. The Extreme Risk Protection Orders law, also known as the Red Flag law, allows courts to order these individuals to relinquish any firearms in their possession.
State Senator Kevin Parker (Brooklyn) said: New York State continues to make gun violence a priority, which is why I am proud to stand in solidarity with Senator Brian Kavanagh, our colleagues in government, and gun safety advocates, to not only announce the passage of New Yorks Red Flag Law, but to also educate the public on how this new law will make our State even safer. Today, we are taking additional measures to ensure that anyone who will likely harm themselves or others will not have access to firearms. The Red Flag Law compliments my law passed this session banning ghost guns, as well as my bill to include a social media search as part of the approval process to obtain a firearm license in New York State. We must have a concerted effort at all levels of government to combat this epidemic of gun violence in our community.
State Senator Alessandra Biaggi (Bronx/ Westchester) said: New Yorkers deserve to be free from the fear of gun violence in their schools, places of worship, and communities. While the federal government continues to abdicate its responsibility, failing to enact common sense reforms, New York is leading the way. As the Extreme Risk Protection Order law goes into effect, law enforcement will gain a new tool to prevent mass shootings and gun suicides. Extreme Risk Protection Orders will give family members and teachers a mechanism to remove firearms from someone who poses a danger to themselves or others. This change will respect the due process rights of all New Yorkers while also making our communities safer. Thank you to Senator Kavanagh, and the tireless gun safety advocates, for their leadership on this issue.
State Senator James Gaughran (Long Island) said: "New York's new Red Flag Law is a model for the federal government to adopt that will prevent gun violence by unstable or dangerous individuals. If this law had been in place nationally, some of the mass shootings that have plagued our country could have been prevented. This common sense law will save lives, and now it is on Congress to follow New York's lead and pass this bill."
Senator Robert Jackson (Manhattan) said, "Im so glad for the hard work of colleagues like Senator Kavanagh in the New York State Senate who, like myself, are dedicated to gun reform. Gun violence is not a problem our federal government is willing or able to solve right now, so it falls on us state elected leaders to do what we can to keep our people safe. The Red Flag law will allow us to keep loved ones and friends safe if it becomes dangerous for them to possess firearms. Its an important piece of the puzzle of gun safety in New York State that we must continue to put together over the coming year."
Assistant Speaker of the New York State Assembly Felix W. Ortiz said: "New Yorks Extreme Risk Protection Order law will provide our residents with an effective tool to help prevent gun violence when they are aware that a person may harm themselves or others. Precaution and safety must always come first. This is another way of being able to "say something if you see something."
Assemblymember Deborah J. Glick (Manhattan) said: I am pleased to see that the Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) law will go into effect this Saturday, August 24th and I congratulate the sponsors, Senator Brian Kavanagh and Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon who advocated for this measure. As we continue to see a disturbing rise in mass shootings and deaths by gun violence throughout the country, especially suicides made easier by guns, it is imperative to ensure that New York State residents have the ability to recognize potentially dangerous and violent individuals before a tragedy occurs. This law will keep New York State individuals, families, and schools safe from the threats of extremist gun violence, and I am happy to support this measure.
Executive Director of the New York State Sheriffs Association Peter Kehoe said: Sheriffs and all law enforcement are always searching for ways to help make the public safer. We applaud Senator Kavanagh for his efforts in this regard, and will continue to work with him and his colleagues to make New York a safer place, without unduly burdening our law abiding citizens.
New York State Council of School Superintendents Executive Director Charles Dedrick said: The Extreme Risk Protection Order law provides school district leaders with another tool to protect our students and staff. We hope the need to utilize the law is limited, but we are heartened that the State has provided new opportunities to keep students less worried about their safety and more focused on their education.
New York State School Boards Association Executive Director Timothy G. Kremer said: Gun violence in this country has become an epidemic, and should be treated the same way any other public health crisis would be: by listening to experts and taking steps to contain the epidemic. Extreme risk protection orders, otherwise known as the Red Flag law, will help contain the spread of gun violence while other necessary steps are pursued at the state and federal level. NYSSBA supported the Red Flag bill and thanks the sponsors, Senator Kavanagh and Assemblywoman Simon, as well as Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders, for their action, and for supporting school districts during its implementation.
New York State Association of School Attorneys President Beth L. Sims said: Our country is presently struggling with an epidemic of gun violence in our school communities; where students are too often the perpetrators and faculty and children in the schools are too frequently the targets. The new Red Flag law provides school administrators with expeditious access to judicial intervention and enables them to seek a limited proactive restriction on unlawful access to firearms by school-age children when appropriate evidence of gun access and intent exists. On behalf of the New York Association of School Attorneys (NYSASA), I would like to thank New Yorks legislative leaders and advocates who lobbied for and passed New Yorks Red Flag law; a law which takes careful aim at preventing gun violence and seeks to protect schools and innocent victims.
New Yorkers Against Gun Violence Executive Director Rebecca Fischer said: To keep New Yorkers safe, families, educators, and others need tools to intervene before senseless tragedies occur. Now that New York has enacted the strongest Extreme Risk Protection Order law in the country, it's our job to educate and empower our communities to use this life-saving process. We will be leading public forums and distributing step-by-step informational materials across the state to ensure this civil court process is used to prevent gun violence. We applaud our state's leaders for taking action and look forward to working with law enforcement, schools, and advocates as this critical law is implemented."
Co-Chairs of the Committee on Gun Violence Prevention and Members of the NYS chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics Jeffrey Oestreicher MD & Nina Agrawal MD said: The 5,000 members of the NYS American Academy of Pediatrics celebrate the leadership of Senator Kavanagh and our NY state legislature for the passage of ERPO. Guns are now the third leading cause of death among US children and the 2nd leading cause of trauma or injury-related death. In enacting ERPO, an evidence-based policy shown to decrease firearm death, our elected officials took another enormous step today in making NY state a beacon for protecting children from gun violence.
National Alliance on Mental Illness-New York State Public Affairs Associate Director Matthew Shapiro said: The National Alliance on Mental Illness-New York State (NAMI-NYS) is excited about the implementation of New Yorks Extreme Risk Protection Order law. Reducing suicide is an integral part of our mission. The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that 60% of firearm deaths are attributed to suicide. This is one of the reasons NAMI-NYS believes that guns should be removed from the homes of people with mental illness during times of crisis. Earlier this year we testified on how one of the few tried-and-true strategies (in preventing suicide) is reducing peoples access to lethal tools, so that if they do sink into hopelessness, any attempt they make most likely wont be fatal. Extreme Risk Protection Orders will save lives and NAMI-NYS applauds Senator Brian Kavanagh and Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon for their commitment to prevent tragedies.
Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence Vice President of Policy Christian Heyne said: The New York Extreme Risk Protective Order law is a critical tool that will undoubtedly save lives and prevent gun violence in a variety of forms. We know from study after study that empowering families and law enforcement to take action when they see someone in crisis is one of the most effective ways to protect our communities from gun violence. Just this week, a study led by Dr. Garen Wintemute of the Violence Prevention Research Program at the UC Davis School of Medicine provided further evidence that extreme risk laws are highly effective in preventing the types of horrific gun violence plaguing our country. At a time when Americans everywhere are looking for real leadership to advance solutions we know will prevent gun violence, we applaud the New York legislature and grassroots networks for getting this bill passed, and we look forward to an implementation program to ensure its used to its full potential.
Giffords State Legislative Director Nico Bocour said: "We must do all we can to protect New Yorkers from the growing gun violence epidemic. Keeping guns out of the hands of individuals experiencing a crisis will help stop potentially dangerous situations from turning deadly. The implementation of this extreme risk law is an example of the innovative policies needed to keep to New York safe. We thank Senator Kavanagh for being a leader that unapologetically fights for safety, and look forward to working with him on the implementation of this lifesaving law.
New York Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America Volunteer Andrea Murray said: Time after time, Senator Kavanagh has stood on the side of gun safety to protect New Yorkers from gun violence. Red Flag laws have already saved lives in states that have passed them. In the face of the gun violence crisis that takes 100 American lives every day, we are grateful to have lawmakers who are willing to do the work to keep New Yorkers safe.