New York renews drive for gun seizure order law

New York state Senators Brian Kavanagh and Brad Hoylman, center, joined with gun control advocates this week to stump for a bill to establish ERPOs in the state. (Photo: Giffords)

New York state Senators Brian Kavanagh and Brad Hoylman, center, joined with gun control advocates this week to stump for a bill to establish ERPOs in the state. (Photo: Giffords)

An array of gun control groups have allied with New York lawmakers in a push to establish Extreme Risk Protection Orders, forcing subjects to surrender their firearms.

The proposal, S7133/A8976, allows police, or a member of a subject’s family or household, to file a petition with the court that could lead to an order prohibiting firearms possession for up to a year if it is believed they pose an imminent risk to themselves or others. Proponents feel the move, already law in California, Oregon and Washington, would save lives.

“Five years ago, New York enacted the NY SAFE Act, making our gun violence prevention laws among the strongest in the nation,” said state Sen. Brian Kavanagh, a Manhattan Democrat and sponsor of S7133. “But even though we have the 48th lowest rate of gun deaths in the country, gun violence is still hurting New Yorkers — and we have a responsibility to act.”

The avenue to implement the protection order system advocated by Kavanagh would be the court system, which, upon being presented with a petition that contends an individual’s possession of guns in his or her current state could pose a general danger, could authorize an order to confiscate the firearms involved. The subject could then seek a hearing to respond to the petition and present any evidence to have their guns returned. Kavanagh backed a similar measure last session that passed the Assembly but stalled in the Senate.

Second Amendment groups have blasted the ERPO process in other states, arguing it provides no structure for those deemed at risk to receive help, or for those who are dangerous to be taken into custody. Further, they point to due process concerns and cite that people who are not mental health professionals or have little contact with the subject can make a statement that triggers a lengthy suspension of gun rights.

The New York bills are backed by a consortium of gun control groups to include the Brady Campaign, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, Everytown, Giffords, Moms Demand Action and Prosecutors Against Gun Violence, the latter founded by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance.

“Extreme Risk Protective Orders can save lives by preventing an act of violence before a shot is ever fired,” said Vance. “When family members or law enforcement identify a person at great risk to themselves or others, removing guns from the equation is just common sense.”

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