Budget includes “Red Flag Law” and other gun control measures


Photo by Thayne Tuason, via Wkipedia Commons
Under new legislation in the New York State budget, those who commit a serious crime in another state will not be able to purchase firearms in New York, if that crime precludes gun ownership here.

New legislation adopted as part of the 2021 state budget prohibits individuals who commit serious offenses out-of-state from obtaining a gun license in New York. Supporters of the new regulations say they will provide greater consistency in New York’s licensing rules and make sure that people who are prohibited from purchasing a firearm are not able to do so. 

Previously, New York law prevented individuals from obtaining a gun license if they commit certain misdemeanors that are deemed “serious offenses,” but the law did not stop them from obtaining a gun license in New York if they committed comparable misdemeanors in another state. These include offenses such as certain domestic violence misdemeanors, forcible touching and other misdemeanor sex offenses, and unlicensed possession of a firearm.

The new law now closes that loophole.

The budget also includes legislation that requires all state and local law enforcement agencies in the state to opt in to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) crime gun trace system.

ATF’s eTrace system is a paperless firearms trace request submission system and interactive trace analysis module. It assists law enforcement agencies by tracing the origin of firearms that have been recovered in criminal investigations. The system also conducts a firearm trace when a law enforcement agency recovers a firearm at a crime scene and requests information regarding its origin to develop investigative leads and aid efforts to combat firearms trafficking.

Legislation to amend the Mental Hygiene Law to allow New York to share reports of individuals who are a danger to themselves or others with other states was also passed in the budget.

In nearly two thirds of cases when a gun was present in the home in which an abuser and victim cohabitated, the abuser used the firearm against the victim, usually threatening to injure or kill them according to Gifford’s Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Legislation sponsored by Senator Roxanne J. Persaud and Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon, which removes guns from domestic abusers, was also included in the enacted budget.

The legislation, known as a “red flag law,” will authorize law enforcement to remove guns from the scene of a domestic violence incident and to seize weapons from the home of an individual who becomes subject to a protective order arising out of a domestic dispute.

“The inclusion of this bill in this year’s budget sends a powerful message to victims of domestic violence that we are serious about eradicating domestic violence and preventing gun violence.  I am grateful to Governor Cuomo for his commitment to this cause and thank Senator Persaud for her continued leadership and advocacy on these issues,” Assemblymember Simon said.

This legislation will also establish a domestic violence misdemeanor to ensure abusers lose access to firearms immediately upon conviction. New York state prohibits people convicted of specific violent misdemeanors from obtaining a license to purchase or possess a firearm and requires the cancellation of their existing licenses. 

“Doing everything we can to make sure that DV [domestic violence] offenders cannot get access to firearms is one of the most important actions we can take to provide at least a small bit of reassurance to their victims. I am elated that this language was included in the budget,” Senator Persaud said.

This gun reform legislation comes at the same time the National Rifle Association (NRA) is suing Gov. Cuomo for classifying gun stores as non-essential businesses, thus closing these stores for the duration of social distancing orders.