The new District Attorney in Queens, New York is vowing to use the state’s new “red flag” law to reduce homicides, but there’s little evidence that the law is actually effective at preventing murders or other violent crimes. Melinda Katz says shootings are increasing this year in the borough of New York City, and she believes the Extreme Risk Protection Orders will help bring the numbers down.
New York State recently joined the ranks of states with so-called red flag laws or Extreme Risk Protection Orders. The law wisely allows family members, members of law enforcement including district attorneys and school officials to seek a court petition to temporarily seize the firearms of individuals deemed a threat to themselves or others.
Unfortunately, just 17 states and the District of Columbia have enacted such laws to date — even though the National Rifle Association duplicitously refuses to endorse red flag laws while stating, “those who have been adjudicated as a danger to themselves or others should not have access to firearms and should be admitted for treatment.”
Red flag laws/Extreme Risk Protection Orders are just plain common sense — particularly as the death tolls continue to mount from shooting rampages. In September, just weeks after the new law took effect, an upstate man became the first in the state to have his guns confiscated after he was arrested for shooting a pistol at a parked car and telling authorities he planned to harm himself.
Yes, the NRA talks about those being a danger to themselves or others being “admitted for treatment,” which isn’t a part of New York’s red flag law. In fact, under New York’s red flag law, that man upstate would have had his guns taken from him, but even after telling officers he planned to harm himself, there would be no mental health help provided. New York does have a civil commitment law, but when a judge signs off on a red flag firearms seizure, there’s no guarantee or mandate to provide any sort of mental health services or even an evaluation.