Rural New York Paper Points Out Issues With State's Red Flag Law

Rural New York Paper Points Out Issues With State's Red Flag Law

Wyoming County doesn’t have a lot of fans of New York state’s new gun laws. The county made that clear, and I applaud them for it. I hope it does more, such as what some counties in Washington state are doing. Maybe it will in time. Who knows.

What we do know is that Wyoming County isn’t happy with Albany, NY’s shenanigans when it comes to the Second Amendment. Even the local paper is taking issue with the state’s red flag laws, which may be the least controversial law passed.

Among them was the so-called red flag bill which, per the Senate’s synopsis, “establishes extreme risk protection orders as a court-issued order of protection prohibiting a person from purchasing, possessing or attempting to purchase or possess a firearm, rifle or shotgun.”

The bill allows family members, school administrators and their designees (teachers, counselors, nurses) to petition a court and then prove that the allegedly-dangerous party is likely to engage in conduct that would result in serious harm to self or others. Police officers were included in the list of petitioners, but they’ve always possessed the ability to petition the court given they dotted the “i”s and crossed the “t”s…which they, and any of the other parties, would not have to do under this bill.

For anyone who values personal liberty, due process, and the importance of just law enforcement, this should raise some serious red flags.

Despite what the lawmakers might want you to believe, families and school officials, just like every citizen, have always had the ability to address threats. It’s simple: see something, say something, call the cops. Our Sheriffs, their deputies, and their investigators are empowered to investigate, identify, and mitigate threats. It’s their job, their calling. They’ve been trained in these matters and they have the resources and wherewithal to follow through on them and assume the risk that comes from it while making sure it’s done in a manner that protects the rights and safety of all parties involved as well as those of the greater community.

Despite that, under the red flag bill regular citizens can and are encouraged to circumvent the local police and directly engage the courts. The state is enabling those who know nothing of proper policing of public safety to propose to the court that someone is a danger. The individuals making these accusations need only to provide the court a compelling reason that probable cause exists — without the actual hard evidence that would have been collected by police.

This opens the door to so many misinterpretations — if not purposeful abuses — of fact. Teachers aren’t criminal investigators; now we want them to add that skill set, with a lack of appropriate training, to their large list of responsibilities? Some folks are inherently fearful of gun ownership; so who’s to say that the very presence of safely-held and safely-used guns in a household isn’t perceived as a threat to them? Many people hold vendettas; what’s preventing an angry ex-wife or a combative school board member from petitioning the courts to remove guns from one’s home?

That last bit is an excellent point.

I find it amusing that New York state voted to prevent teachers from lawfully carrying a gun to defend their lives, something many opponents claim teachers shouldn’t do because they’re not police officers while trying to grant them the authority to act in such a manner. This gives them far more power than a concealed carry firearm ever could.

The point about vendettas is especially important, too. After all, what’s to stop someone from punishing a family member by stripping them of their guns over nothing?

The most important point is that despite Gov. Andrew Cuomo and company’s best efforts, the state of New York still has people who can see through the male bovine excrement they’re peddling as sound policy. More importantly, the state has people who will call them on it.