In the wake of mass shootings in Ohio and Texas, Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows) has joined state Sen. Brian Kavanagh (D-Staten Island) in Tennessee along with other legislators from across the country for the American State Legislators for Gun Violence Prevention on Thursday.
Together, the 50 state legislators from 20 states have called upon Congress to enact stricter gun control laws federally.
“We had a press conference on the capitol steps of Tennessee urging for sensible gun control laws and urging Washington D.C. to adopt red flag legislation, banning assault rifles, assault weapons in light of what happened in Dayton and Texas,” said Weprin. “We had representatives from Ohio and Texas there too.”
Weprin hopes that Congress would consider adopting some of the gun control laws coming out of New York State, which has some of the strongest legislation on the matter in the country.
“Just this past year the governor signed the Red Flag Bill,” said Weprin. “If there are red flags in people’s behavior they should not be allowed to have access to guns.”
Weprin noted that social media users should alert police if they start to see disturbing comments or “red flags” on online platforms, which are often where the mass shooters go to vent before committing domestic acts of terror. He also believes there should be a stronger investment in cyber law enforcement to prevent future attacks.
“In almost every case, there has been a trail of internet statements and comments,” said Weprin. “These are red flags. There are so many different law enforcement organizations that monitor online things and as soon as somebody threatens hate or to kill people online, we should take them seriously. Those should be the red flags that law enforcement has.”
In February, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Red Flag Bill into law and it will take effect on Aug. 24.
A judge will be allowed to order the confiscation of an individual’s weapons if law enforcement, school officials or a family member signs a statement that a person is a danger to his or herself or others, according to the law. A hearing will later be held where clear and convincing evidence has to be presented for the justice to extend the order for up to a year.
On Wednesday, Cuomo outlined four elements of his Make America Safer Pledge that he hopes all Democrats across the country will rally around.
Cuomo wants the federal government to outlaw assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, to create a mental health database, to pass universal background checks and pass a national Red Flag law, according to a tweet.
While most social media users were on board for steps one, three and four, there was an immediate backlash against the idea of a mental health database with many tweeters.
Social media users called the idea of a mental health database “terrible and insulting,” they compared it to rounding up people for “concentration camps”, they found it to be a violation of “health privacy” and several said that they might reconsider seeking necessary help if ever such a list was to become law statewide or federally.
Not all of the criticisms were negative.
Some social media users suggested that instead of playing into President Donald Trump’s scapegoating of the mentally ill, that a domestic violence databank and a hate group database would be better indicators of narrowing in on potential mass shooters.
Other Twitter users went a step further and said it was time for a “computerized database of gun owners that can be accessed by any state.”
A year after the Sandy Hook shooting of elementary school children and staff in Connecticut, New York State banned bump stocks with the NY SAFE Act in 2013, according to Weprin.
Despite having some of the toughest gun laws in the country and a more Democratic state Senate that is willing to swiftly act o prevent mass shootings in the Big Apple, some guns are coming into New York from out of state, according to Weprin.
“There are many other states that have not done that and some are contemplating gun controls laws to prevent these mass killings,” said Weprin. “The answer is to have universal background checks, which is not done in every state and certainly not the federal weapons.”
Weprin also wants an international ban of assault weapons coming into the country.
“Assault weapons should only be used by the military,” said Weprin. “It should not be used by ordinary citizens. We have a big hunting industry in New York State, but you don’t need that to go hunting. That is what has called mass killings and loss of life -the ability to shoot assault rifles, one after the other in a short amount of time and that should be banned.”