By Paul McQuillen
Recently, Republicans in the New York State Senate voted against legislation that would have directed the removal of guns from individuals found by a court to pose a threat to themselves or others. The legislation, termed Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO), would allow family and law enforcement to intervene when a loved one is suffering severe emotional or other problems and possesses a gun.
ERPO legislation would allow families or law enforcement to petition a court to temporarily suspend an individual’s access to firearms if there is documented evidence that the individual is deemed a threat of harm to him/herself or others. The person subject to the order must surrender their guns to police and would be ineligible to buy, sell, or possess other firearms for up to one year.
With laws such as this, the shooter at Stoneman Douglas High could have had his weapons removed by court order prior to the mass shooting. You will remember that there we 39 documented reports concerning the shooter but law enforcement was powerless to act, absent an ERPO law.
Proposals such as this have already been enacted in five states and are now pending in 19 more. And really, who could be against removing firearms from individuals deemed a danger?
In all too many instances shooters exhibit clear indications that they are deeply troubled before they pulled the trigger, but loved ones are unable to prevent them from accessing deadly firearms. ERPO laws could prevent mass shootings, domestic violence shootings and suicides. Studies demonstrate that women who are domestic violence victims in residences with firearms are five times more likely to be victims of gun violence; and suicide accounts for more than 21,000 deaths per year. Approximately 90% of people who attempt suicide with a gun will die.
In his first true test of independence representing his constituents, Sen. Chris Jacobs didn’t even blink. Jacobs went in lock step with Republican leadership and voted against this potentially life-saving legislation.
Access to a gun during a period of crisis is often the difference between life and death.
Jacobs also voted against banning the sale and possession of bump-stocks in NY. You will recall that the shooter in Las Vegas used bump-stocks to up his body count. To date, no one has been able to demonstrate a useful purpose for bump stocks other than turning a highly lethal and deadly semi-automatic assault weapon into a more lethal and deadly fully-automatic weapon. Even the President supports banning bump-stocks.
My state senator is Chris Jacobs, but Sens. Patrick Gallivan, Michael Ranzenhofer and Robert Ortt are equally shameful as they and other Republicans continue to turn their backs on the victims, and future victims, of these massacres because they are unwilling to confront the gun lobby and its supporters in the NRA.
Paul McQuillen is upstate coordinator for New Yorkers Against Gun Violence and an executive board member of Stop the Violence Coalition.