Senate Democrats Force Committee Vote on Common Sense Gun Violence Prevention Bill to Create Extreme Risk Protection Orders

Law would empower families and police to stop gun violence and save lives by obtaining a court order preventing someone from possessing guns if a judge finds they are likely to harm themselves or others

In the face of Republican refusals to bring the bill to the Floor, Senator Kavanagh will force the Senate Judiciary Committee to take a vote

(Albany, NY) -- On the first Session day since the horrific shooting at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas, Senator Brian Kavanagh today joined Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Senator Brad Hoylman, and gun violence prevention and mental health advocates to press Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee to vote in favor of S7133A, a commonsense gun violence prevention bill that would save lives by creating “extreme risk protection orders” in New York — and to call upon Republican leadership to immediately schedule a vote of the full Senate.

Despite repeated refusals by Senate Republicans to advance the bill, Senator Kavanagh forced a vote through a “motion for committee consideration” -- a parliamentary procedure defined in Senate Rule VIII § 2(e) that gives bill sponsors the power to compel a committee vote. Senator Kavanagh’s motion was filed on March 22nd — exactly two months to the day.

"Once again our news is dominated by a mass shooting and, once again, offering thoughts and prayers is not acceptable,” Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said. “We need action and this legislation is a big step towards keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people. Since the Republicans refuse to act we will be forcing a vote on this crucial bill in committee.”

“New York has some of the strongest gun laws in the country, but we can — and must — do more. Tragedies in Santa Fe, Texas, Parkland, Florida, and elsewhere are just the most recent examples of the horrible impact gun violence has on our communities. And New York is not immune. Over 900 New Yorkers are killed by guns every year, and many more are injured. Creating extreme risk protection orders will strengthen our laws and save lives,” State Senator Brian Kavanagh, co-prime sponsor of ERPO bill S7133A, said. “This bill is supported by gun violence prevention advocates and experts, police, district attorneys, healthcare providers, and mental health organizations. It passed the Assembly this year with strong bipartisan support. The vast majority of Americans — and of gun owners — want to see these laws enacted. Studies show it will save lives. But Republicans in the Senate repeatedly blocked it. Today, we’re forcing every member of the Judiciary Committee to take a position on the bill — and calling for an immediate vote on the floor. New Yorkers will not accept the status quo any longer, and Republicans should know the entire state is watching.”

“I hope the Senate Judiciary Committee allows the legislation authorizing Extreme Risk Protection Orders which I carry with Senator Kavanagh to come to the floor for a vote,” State Senator Brad Hoylman, co-prime sponsor of S7133A and Ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said. “ERPOs have shown to be effective in the eight other states that have these court orders in stopping dangerous people who have guns from using them to hurt themselves or others. It’s time New Yorkers have the same safeguards against mass shootings, 101 of which have occurred nationwide this year alone.”

“The recent school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas was devastating. And even more devastating is that these school shootings have become all too common. We must do more to prevent the gun violence that is plaguing our nation and taking such a heavy toll on our students and our community. It’s time for the Senate to act and allow a vote on ERPO, which can prevent people from harming themselves or others. I stand with Senators Kavanagh and Hoylman and the advocates to call for the Senate to pass ERPO immediately,” said Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon, who sponsors ERPO in the Assembly.

In addition to forcing the committee vote and urging Republican Senators on the Judiciary Committee to vote in favor of the ERPO bill, Senators Stewart-Cousins, Kavanagh, and Hoylman and the advocates demanded Republican Senate leadership immediately schedule a full vote on the bill.

S7133A, co-prime sponsored by Senators Kavanagh and Hoylman, creates a new type of civil order -- called an “extreme risk protection order” -- that empowers family and household members, police, and district attorneys to prevent gun violence. These individuals would be able to petition a judge for an ERPO, and if the court finds the subject of the order is likely to harm themselves or others, the judge would issue an order temporarily restricting their right to possess or purchase guns. The subject of the order would also be required to temporarily surrender any guns they currently own.

The bill includes strong due process protections, and gives those subject to an extreme risk protection order the right to challenge the order at a hearing immediately when it is issued and at an additional hearing during the order’s one-year term. Similar laws in other states have withstood legal challenges.

Eight other states — California, Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington — have similar laws. The Florida, Maryland, and Vermont  bills were enacted in the wake of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February 14, 2018. A peer-reviewed scientific study by researchers led by Duke University found that the Connecticut law led to a significant reduction in the state’s suicide rate.

The New York ERPO bill is supported by a broad coalition of gun violence prevention organizations, law enforcement officials, health care organizations, and mental health advocates. The New York ERPO coalition includes: New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, Giffords, Everytown for Gun Safety, the New York Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, New York Legislators for Gun Violence Prevention, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Citizens Crime Commission of New York City, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, Prosecutors Against Gun Violence, DA Cyrus Vance, Jr. (Manhattan), DA Darcel D. Clark (Bronx), DA Eric Gonzalez (Brooklyn), DA Madeline Singas (Nassau), DA Richard A. Brown (Queens), DA Michael McMahon (Staten Island), DA Anthony Scarpino (Westchester), DA Timothy Sini (Suffolk), Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder, the National Alliance on Mental Illness-New York State, the Mental Health Association of New York State, the Mental Health Association of New York City, the Mental Health Association in Orange County, Mental Health America of Dutchess County, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, the New York State Nurses Association, the Greater New York Hospital Association.

“It is essential that the Extreme Risk Protection Order bill moves forward and becomes law. This common sense legislation can help save lives by preventing those who engage in conduct that poses a serious threat of harm from possessing firearms. I join Senator Brian Kavanagh and all the other lawmakers, organizers and community members in calling on the Judiciary Committee to approve this bill,” said Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez.

State Senator Jose Peralta said, “I firmly believe that we cannot wait any longer to implement additional gun control measures in our state. Sadly, gun violence is too common in our society, and we must take the necessary steps to eradicate it. A step in the right direction is the passing of the ‘Extreme Risk Protection Orders,’ bill, a common-sense proposal that will help get firearms out of the hands of people who may be a problem to themselves or to others.”

“I am proud to stand with my State Senate colleagues to press for common sense gun violence prevention measures, such as the Extreme Risk Protection Orders bill, S7133A, which is basic to protecting our families and schools,” said State Senator Shelley B. Mayer. “This is not a partisan issue. Establishing Risk Protection Orders to prevent individuals who have been adjudicated to be a danger to themselves or others from purchasing a firearm is common sense. This measure is a prudent and necessary step forward to protect our residents and our children.”

Westchester County District Attorney Anthony A. Scarpino, Jr. said: “Law enforcement needs ERPO legislation to be able to act on red flags where a person with access to guns may be in crisis and at risk of hurting themselves and others. This is a life-saving measure. I do not want to see the day when lives are lost in Westchester County and family members ask, ‘why didn’t you act when we asked for help?’ We need the legal tools to take action before someone is hurt or dies. The time to pass this bill is now. I urge Governor Cuomo along with state lawmakers to work together and enact this bill before the session ends.”
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., co-founder of Prosecutors Against Gun Violence, said, “The ability to remove guns from the hands of those in the midst of a mental health crisis is critical to keeping New Yorkers safe, and the Extreme Risk Protection Order bill would empower families and law enforcement to do just that. I urge the Judiciary Committee to approve the bill and send it to the floor for an immediate vote.”

“After another heartbreaking school shooting and the continued daily toll of gun deaths, New Yorkers, and all Americans, are renewing their calls for action. Today, the New York Senate Judiciary Committee is finally taking action on a bill that will help protect the state's families and communities from gun violence,” said Nico Bocour, State Legislative Director of Giffords. “We urge them to advance the bill and immediately schedule a floor vote. The Senate must pass this life-saving policy and demonstrate that New York is again willing to lead the nation in protecting its citizens. We thank State Senators Brian Kavanagh and Brad Hoylman for their sponsorship and courageous commitment to this important legislation.”
"To protect our families and communities, New York must pass Extreme Risk Protection Order legislation," said Rebecca Fischer, Executive Director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence.  "Other states have already passed extreme risk laws to empower families and law enforcement to prevent mass shootings and suicides and other senseless tragedies. New York must step forward today to remain a leader on gun safety.  We urge the Senate's Judiciary Committee to pass this life-saving bill and bring it to the floor for a vote."
Kyleanne Hunter, Vice President of Programs at the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said, “Extreme risk laws work. We’ve seen how effective they are in states across the country, and we know that they are one of the best tools available to law enforcement to keep guns out of the hands of people in crisis. New Yorkers deserve every protection from gun violence possible, and we strongly urge the Senate Judiciary Committee to take up this important legislation as soon as possible. This is too important to wait another day.”
Dakota Jablon, Policy Analyst at the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, said:"It is necessary for elected officials to do everything they can to keep gun violence from happening. States across the country are passing extreme risk laws -- providing the tools for family members and law enforcement to remove guns from dangerous situations. New York should not be left behind. The Senate Judiciary Committee should waste no time in voting on this bill and sending it to the floor for a full vote. As we saw last week in Texas, gun violence will not wait. Neither should lawmakers."
“We urge the Senate Judiciary Committee to support this vital ERPO legislation,” said June Rubin, volunteer leader with the New York chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “An Extreme Risk Protection Order law will protect New Yorkers by helping to prevent mass shootings, gun suicides, and other acts of gun violence.  We urge the Senate to pass this life saving legislation immediately.”
“The National Alliance on Mental Illness-New York State (NAMI-NYS) firmly believes that our leaders should use their power and influence to help keep the one in four New Yorkers living with a mental illness and their families safe as well as do all they can to advance their recovery. While most major causes of death in the U.S. are in decline, tragically suicide rates continue to increase. For a long time we have worked towards our goal of zero suicide and have consistently called on our leaders to do more to address the prevention of suicide,” Matthew Shapiro, Associate Director of NAMI-NYS, said. “We are tremendously grateful to Senator Brian Kavanagh for hearing our pleas and introducing the Extreme Risk Protection Orders bill. This bill presents an opportunity to save lives and reduce suicide. We urge Senator Bonacic and the members of the Senate Judiciary not to squander this opportunity and vote this life-saving bill out of committee and on to the Senate floor for a vote.”