NYC Assemblyman Proposes Gun Restraining Order Bill

Oct 3, 2014

Credit Wikimedia Commons

A New York assemblyman is introducing gun restraining order legislation. The idea is to temporarily deny individuals who are considered dangerous access to guns.

Democratic Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh of Manhattan this week announced legislation that aims to reduce the risk of gun violence. Here’s how.

“So this is a bill that would permit family members or friends or medical professionals or law enforcement or really anyone who’s concerned that somebody having to access to guns poses a serious danger to go to a court and present evidence of that, and if the court were persuaded, they would be able to issue a temporary order preventing the person from acquiring or possessing guns,” Kavanagh explains. “The person who is the subject of the order would then have an opportunity to appeal that decision.”

Kavanagh says the bill also could help in suicide prevention. He says his bill is modeled on a gun violence restraining bill signed into law September 30 in California. The California bill came in response to a deadly shooting in May in which the parents of the shooter had contacted law enforcement prior, expressing concern about their son, but nothing was done. Again, Kavanagh.

“But it’s not just about those kinds of mass shooting incidents,” says Kavanagh. “There are often situations where something bad happens and we look at it and say, somebody must have known and somebody should have done something, but the truth is that New Yorkers and people in many other states don’t really have tools to act in that situation, and this bill will give them those tools.”

Tom King is president of the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association.

“The legislation is redundant,” King says. “There’s already legislation within the SAFE Act that allows that to happen,” says King. “It’s a typical election year, election time piece of legislation that’s not going to do anything to make anybody safer.”

The SAFE Act, or Safe Ammunitions and Firearms Enforcement Act, is a controversial gun control bill Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law nearly two years ago. King contends there is no difference between going to the authorities with a concern and going to the court, while Kavanagh argues the bill would empower concerned individuals to act promptly to try and diffuse a potentially dangerous situation. Again, Kavanagh.

“This is a bill that intends to address a significant public safety problem in a sensible way,” Kavanagh says. “It balances the needs of individuals and communities to feel safe when there may be somebody who’s become troubled in a way that may make them a danger to that community and also at the same time balances the fact that we’re aware people have rights to possess guns in some circumstances and they have due process rights, and this balances each of those things.”

King says legislators are missing the mark in addressing gun violence.

“Every piece of anti-gun legislation that has been passed since I have been involved in the Rifle & Pistol Association has been touted as being the piece of legislation that’s going to end gun violence in America,” says King. “When is the media going to smarten up and when are the people going to smarten up and understand that we have to deal with the core issues, not what people are telling us are the issues.”

Kavanagh says he has spoken with a number of colleagues who he says have been supportive, for the most part. He says he expects broad support in both houses of the legislature. A number of organizations and advocacy groups aimed at preventing gun violence support the bill.