By Connor Beach
New York State lawmakers passed Tuesday a series of bills to strengthen the state’s gun control regulations.
The legislative package easily passed the Assembly, long a Democratic stronghold, and also garnered a sizable majority in the Senate, where Democrats regained control earlier this month.
The gun control legislation was the first to pass both houses of the legislature since 2013, when the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act was approved weeks after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
“Last year young people across the country mobilized in a transformative movement to march for their lives,” Senator Jim Gaughran (D- Northport) said. “It shouldn't take a tragedy to spur action.”
Gaughran, who supported the legislation, was joined on the Senate floor by Dix Hills residents Michael Schulman and Linda Beigel Schulman whose son Scott Beigel was killed while protecting his students during last year’s mass shooting in Parkland, Florida.
One piece of legislation establishes extreme risk protection orders, known commonly as “red flags.” This allows a judge to prohibit a person from purchasing, possessing or attempting to purchase or possess a firearm, rifle or shotgun if law enforcement officials, family members or certain school officials believe the person is “likely to engage in conduct that would result in serious harm to themselves or others.”
Beigel Schulman said advocating for the “red flag” bill has been “my mission.”
“I know that no matter how senseless and no matter how incomprehensible the Parkland massacre was, Scott's murder was, when we pass the Red Flag law… Scott's murder will now save lives,” she said.
A second bill prevents school districts from allowing teachers to carry guns in schools. The bill prevents K-12 schools from authorizing anyone other than a security officer, school resource officer or law enforcement officer to carry a firearm on school grounds.
Other legislation approved Tuesday would ban the sale and manufacture of a device that accelerates the rate of fire of a firearm, such as bump stocks.
Lawmakers also approved the creation of regulated gun buyback programs and established an extension of up to thirty-days when required for national in-state background checks.
Senate minority leader John Flanagan (R- East Northport), who voted against four of the gun control bills, said in a statement Tuesday that “many of the bills being rushed through the Legislature today do nothing to address the serious, underlying causes of school violence or keep our students safe.” Flanagan urged Democrats to vote for an amendment put forward by Republicans that would have given schools the “authority and resources to hire an armed school resource officer.”
Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo is expected to sign the gun control legislation into law in the coming days.