NY governor signs 'red flag' gun protection law

Nancy Pelosi joins Cuomo for bill signing

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New York Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, joined by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, signed a "red flag" gun protection bill Monday morning in New York City.

The bill, also known as an extreme risk protection order bill, allows a court to temporarily prohibit someone from buying or possessing a gun if they're deemed a threat to themselves or others.

"This gun violence issue is a national health epidemic in our country," Pelosi said at the bill signing Monday. "Mr. President, if you want to talk about emergencies, this is an emergency."

Under the new law, police officers, family or household members, or school personnel such as a teacher, principal or guidance counselor, are all able to petition a judge to issue a temporary order to stop someone from purchasing or possessing a gun "upon a finding that there is probable cause to believe [that person] is likely to engage in conduct that would result in serious harm to himself, herself or others," according to the text of the bill.

"We empower school teachers -- not by giving them guns, which is the President's idea. I mean, how ludicrous a concept?" Cuomo said Monday. "No. Arm and empower the teacher with the law."

The law is expected to take effect in New York state in approximately six months. New York judges will consider various factors when evaluating whether someone's behavior is a "red flag," such as whether the person has substance abuse issues or has threatened violence against themselves or others.

If a temporary extreme risk protection order is granted by a judge, a hearing will occur within three to six days to determine whether a final extreme risk protection order is necessary, the law states.

Pelosi noted that the law is not mean to stigmatize those with various health challenges, such as mental health illnesses.

"Ninety-nine percent of people with any diagnosis are safe, law-abiding people in our country," Pelosi said. "We just want to identify ... to save lives."

Many similar gun protection bills were proposed in states across the nation after the February 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Before the shooting that left 17 dead, such laws were only in effect in five states: Connecticut (enacted in 1999), Indiana (2005), California (2014), Washington (2016), and Oregon (2017).

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