By Andrew Graham SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) Since taking effect in late August, New York’s ‘Red Flag’ laws, designed to create a mechanism for people to remove guns from individuals deemed to demonstrate warning signs, has already made an impact.
According to Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick, there have been three cases in Onondaga Country already, with four currently still pending. So how does the process work?
The process is a civil suit filed in court and according to Fitzpatrick, the following four groups of people are allowed to file a petition.
- Police — local and state
- District Attorneys
- School district designees
- Family members
Once a petition is filed and if the plaintiff — or complainant — provides a “preponderance of evidence” at an initial hearing, a judge can hand down a temporary “Extreme Risk Protection Order” or “ERPO.” This stands for 10 days while a full trial pends. The temporary ERPO is handed down “ex parte,” meaning the gun owner doesn’t have to be present at the hearing to having their gun license temporarily suspended.
Potential red flags that can land a gun owner in court include threatening social media posts, overt dangerous actions with a firearm or even suicidal comments. There’s no hard and fast rule over what is or isn’t a red flag, Fitzpatrick said.
At the full trial — where the gun owner gets a chance to argue their case — a decision is made by a judge on whether or not to hand down a year-long ERPO. If they do, the gun owner will either forfeit their weapons or have them seized for the duration of the ERPO, which can be appealed at the end of the year.
Fitzpatrick noted that locally, he encourages the other three groups — families, police and school districts — to work with his office and it’s legal expertise.