Should the United States implement nationwide "red flag" laws to curb mass shootings?
In an op-ed written for USA Today Network and shared on the governor's website, Hochul touted the measures, which allow a court to issue an extreme risk protection order (ERPO) that temporarily prohibits someone from buying or possessing a gun should they be deemed a danger to themselves or others.
Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the state’s ERPO into law in February 2019, allowing police, prosecutors, school administrators, and family members to request orders of protection. In all, nineteen states and Washington, DC have enacted such laws.
“If Tennessee had a Red Flag law in place, a simple filing by the shooter’s parents or friends could have prevented tragedy,” Hochul writes in the op-ed.
“And in Monday's attack in Louisville, when the alleged gunman texted his intentions to multiple friends and left a note for his parents, an emergency order of protection likely could have saved lives.”
The 25-year-old gunman in the Louisville shooting had legally purchased the AR-15-style rifle used in the killings at a local gun dealership just six days before the attack, CNN reports.
Initial reports suggested that he targeted the bank, where he was an employee, after learning that he was about to be fired. However, Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg said that was “not accurate” in a press conference on Tuesday, April 11.
Hochul cited a statewide poll from the Vanderbilt Center for Health Policy that found that over 70% of respondents said schools would be safer if background checks were required for all gun sales. More than 63% of parents said schools would be safer if families and police officers could request ERPOs.
“That’s exactly what we did in New York, after 10 people lost their lives in a racially motivated mass shooting in my hometown of Buffalo almost one year ago,” Hochul said.
“I immediately went to work with our state legislature and less than a month after the attack in Buffalo, we passed a landmark package to strengthen state gun laws and protect New Yorkers.
“This package included banning the sale of semiautomatic weapons to anyone under 21, and bolstering our existing gun laws, including Red Flag laws, to prevent future tragedies.”
According to the governor, 56% of mass shooting perpetrators exhibited “troubling” behavior or made specific threats before carrying out their attacks.
“That’s what happened in Nashville: the shooter had known mental health issues and was receiving treatment,” Hochul said in the op-ed. “But they were still able to legally purchase an arsenal of deadly weapons.”
Hochul cited statistics showing that states with tougher gun laws have lower rates of gun deaths, and that gun violence is now the leading cause of death among children and adolescents in the United States.
“According to the CDC, New York has a gun death rate of 5.3 per 100,000 — the fifth lowest in the country,” she said. “Tennessee’s is four times higher.”
“Instead of expelling lawmakers who are fighting to save kids’ lives, the adults need to grow up and work collaboratively within the Tennessee legislature to protect those children,” Hochul continued.
“It’s time to stop the bloodshed in Tennessee and around the nation.”
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