Byrne defends Constitution, rights of law abiding gun owners, and public safety

Posted: January 29, 2019

A statement from Assemblyman Kevin Byrne (R,C,Ref-Mahopac) regarding “Red Flag” Legislation

I voted against the Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) legislation, commonly referred to as the “Red Flag Law,” because it presents several problems for law-abiding gun owners and the public in general. Its flaws include opportunities for exploitation and abuse, lack of timely due process, and it provides no additional attention, services or supervision for these “flagged” individuals immediately after the confiscation of their firearms.

The law allows a wide array of people without any sort of certification, including former roommates and ex-significant others, to report someone as a danger resulting in the seizure of that person’s lawfully possessed firearms. The law also restricts a citizen’s right to timely due process by making them wait three to six days for a hearing, several days after their firearm has already been seized. Lastly, while an ERPO or “red flag” labels these individuals as a danger, it requires no action after confiscation until a hearing is held to determine whether or not they may have their guns back.  If these people are such a danger, we should not be leaving them in society where they may have access to alternative methods to harm themselves or others; they should receive an immediate mental health evaluation and the state should be providing assistance and support. Without this added attention, there is a very legitimate concern that this law could unintentionally escalate a situation and further endanger public safety.

That doesn’t mean we ignore the recent mass murders that have plagued our nation these past 20 years. Our state does need to do more to prevent these types of tragedies from occurring, like the shootings in Florida and Las Vegas. We can better protect our schools, support School Resource Officers and do more to ensure that people who need mental health services get them. In 2018 the NYS Senate passed legislation (S.7805, S.7790, S.7811) to provide these types of services, but unfortunately these proposals were held up in the Assembly. I implore my colleagues to join me and support these bills.