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Editorial: Gun measures are reasonable, protect citizens’ rights

Editorial: Gun measures are reasonable, protect citizens’ rights

Bills fill gaps in gun safety laws to protect citizens
Editorial: Gun measures are reasonable, protect citizens’ rights
Colt Mustang pistol at Gunsmoke Trading Post in Rotterdam in 2014.
Photographer: PETER R. BARBER/GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER


If you want to know whether New York’s new package of gun laws is good or bad, look at the list of supporters.

Prosecutors and anti-crime groups. Medical organizations and mental health professionals. Victims of gun violence. Moms.

Despite the predictable knee-jerk reaction of extreme pro-gun advocates against any legitimate limits on access to weapons, the state Legislature’s package of reforms includes common-sense safety protections.

They won’t violate anyone’s Second Amendment rights and they won’t take guns out of the hands of any responsible, law-abiding citizens.

Opponents of this legislation are counting people not to read the bills, not to learn the rationale or safety benefits, and not to understand the protections built in to protect the rights of people whose intention of owning a gun is only for protection, hunting and recreation.

One bill (A2689/S2451) would allow the creation of “extreme risk protection orders.” This so-called “red-flag” legislation would allow police, family members and school officials to seek a court order to force someone to give up their weapons temporarily when that person is at impending risk of harming themselves or others.

The bill includes measures to ensure that the government isn’t randomly taking weapons away from people on someone else’s whim. Petitions to remove someone’s weapons would be decided after a court hearing, during which strong evidence is presented that someone is about to engage in dangerous conduct.

When the crisis with the individual passes, the person could appeal to get his or her weapons back.

In Maryland, where that state’s red-flag law went into effect in October, courts have held substantive hearings and removed more than 170 weapons. Officials say the law no-doubt has prevented many deaths from suicide, domestic violence and other situations.

Another controversial bill would prevent school districts from allowing teachers or staff to possess firearms in schools.

No, this bill would not create gun-free zones where school shooters could operate without fear.

This bill (A1715A/S0101A) only restricts districts from authorizing teachers to have guns. It wouldn’t leave schools unprotected because district officials could allow security officers, school resource officers and/or law enforcement officers to carry a firearms on school grounds.

Putting weapons in schools would increase the chance of an accidental shooting or a violent incident by a student or a teacher who had easy access to a weapon. 

Do you really want an emotional 13-year-old to be able to break into his teacher’s desk drawer so he can shoot a bully, a belligerent teacher or himself?

The job of teaching should be left to teaching professionals, while the job of securing school grounds should be left to security and law enforcement professionals.

Another bill (A2690/S2374) would give federal officials more time to conduct background checks beyond the current three-day period in order to do a more extensive look into someone’s criminal or mental-health background.

Most background checks can be conducted quickly because the purchaser has no issues. But a small percentage of background checks are deemed “inconclusive.” Yet the person is sold weapons anyway. The shooter in the Charleston church massacre used this loophole to get his weapons. This bill would give authorities 30 days to complete a background check in these cases.

Other legislation would prohibit the possession, manufacturing, sale and distribution of guns made on a 3-D printer. Because they’re made of plastic or some other non-metal, they can escape metal detectors.

Another law would ban bump-stocks that turn semi-automatic weapons into fully-automatic weapons, as the shooter in the 2017 Las Vegas massacre did.

Another would require safe storage of weapons in homes with children. Many children are killed in this country because they or someone else finds an unsecured, loaded weapon in a home and either accidentally shoots someone or uses it to commit suicide.

And to prevent mentally ill out-of-staters from getting New York gun permits, a bill would authorize a check of the permit applicant’s home-state mental health records.

None of these measures would  violate a law-abiding person’s right to bear arms. But they would keep guns away from mentally unstable people and violent individuals, while protecting children, domestic partners and other victims.

Don’t agree with this legislation?

Then ask the people who support it why they do.

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