NY Senate democrats look toward “common sense” gun laws


New York democrats have four proposals in mind when legislators return to Albany in January,

The “Red Flag Protection Bill,” which failed last session, would let a police officer, a family member, or a school official testify that a person shouldn’t have a gun. A judge would decide if that person poses a risk.

“There’s more we can do to protect children in schools. We can do more to protect women who have been abused by a man in their home, and we can do more to protect society against these rabid shooters, who are now shooting up malls and synagogues and churches,” said Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul, who was in Buffalo on Friday.

Niagara County and Orleans County Senator Rob Ortt, a Republican, feels the “Red Flag” bill is too subjective.

“You’re asking folks who don’t necessarily have any background in mental health or behavioral health to make assessments on someone,” he said.

Ortt said spending more money on mental health resources, such as having more patient beds, is a better proactive approach.

A second proposal would extend the waiting period of a delayed background check from three days to 10 days. Right now, when someone wants to buy a gun, a current background check system would issue a position to allow the him or her to purchase the gun, deny that person, or delay that person while local law enforcement looks into it.

“If somebody from law enforcement said, ‘you know what, three days is simply not enough,’ that might be different. But I haven’t heard that, seen that, or heard any evidence that 10 days is a better time,” Senator Ortt said. “So it seems to me like yet another attempt to delay the process, to slow down the process under the guise of safety.”

Lt. Governor Hochul disagrees.

“There have been examples where law enforcement was not able to do their proper due diligence in that three day period, and people have obtained guns,” she said. “This is not just something someone just dreamed up. This is based in fact on reality.”

In 2015, Dylan Roof legally purchased a gun despite a criminal background that should have prevented him from making the purchase before he entered a Charleston, South Carolina church and murdered nine people. In that case, the FBI said the background check system failed.

A third proposal would require New Yorkers wanting to buy handguns to let investigators go through their social media and search engine history. Senator Ortt says he is most opposed to this one because he says it comes too close to crossing constitutional rights.

“The first amendment, the fourth amendment. You’re asking someone to have to provide their password, which is a very sensitive and rightfully so aspect for most people,” Ortt said. “Again we’re getting into subjectivity. What would constitute a reason to deny someone their pistol permit?”

A fourth proposal will likely become a moot point. New York democrats also want to ban bump stocks, the tools that make some guns act like semi-automatic weapons. However, the federal government may do that in the coming weeks, and it would no longer be a state issue.

Ortt said of the Western New Yorkers he knows who own guns, most do not have or use a bump stock, and that of all the gun law proposals, that is the one he feels is least controversial and that most people can agree on.

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