The Democratically controlled State Legislature moved on Jan. 29 to protect New Yorkers by enacting common-sense measures to combat gun violence. They include passage of:
• Extreme Risk Protection Orders, allowing law enforcement officials, family members or school administrators to seek court orders requiring people likely to harm themselves or others to surrender their firearms.
• An extension of time for national in-state background checks.
• A ban on bump stocks, devices that accelerate a gun’s rate of fire.
• A prohibition of arming teachers.
Over the last year, editors and reporters at the Herald Community Newspapers have joined the national conversation about guns, talking with owners of firearms and victims of gun violence and reporting on proposals to improve gun safety on Long Island and across the country.
Last June, we mourned the lives of fellow community journalists at the Capital Gazette after a shooter entered its office in Annapolis, Md., killing five and wounding two. Last month, the Herald’s editorial and sales staff took part in active-shooter training.
The most recent legislation was the first major gun safety package enacted in New York since 2013, when state lawmakers passed the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement, or SAFE, Act. The bill was written in response to the shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in December 2012, which left 26 dead, as well as the shooting of two firefighters in West Webster, N.Y., 10 days later.
Sadly, mass shootings have increasingly become the norm. The Herald spoke with Long Islanders who survived the shooting at the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas in October 2017, when a gunman killed 58 and injured more than 800 — the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history. We reported on local students’ calls for increased security in their schools after a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., fatally shot 17 students and staff members last February. Many school districts responded to the pleas of students and parents to bolster security, allocating resources to harden their buildings and review safety procedures.
We are pleased now to report on state legislators taking meaningful action in order to decrease the number of such tragedies. Gov. Andrew Cuomo described passage of the most recent legislation as “the next evolution in this ongoing crusade.” We must continue to push forward.