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Mass shootings prompt leaders to back "red flag" laws

WBFO file photo

Many states, including New York, have what are called "red flag" laws. That's legislation under which a judge can rule such an individual is a potential danger to himself or others and take away that person's guns. 

Erie County District Attorney John Flynn among those backing the law.

"When that law takes effect later this month, New York State now has the ability to take weapons out of the hands of people who may be suffering from mental illness, from individuals who may have exhibited some unsocial tendencies," Flynn said.

As a district attorney, Flynn will be one of the designated reporters who can go to a judge and ask for an extreme risk protection order. That allows for the seizure of an individual's guns.

The state's court system is rushing to establish the rules for this process, within the law. Even President Donald Trump is calling for more of those laws.

"We must make sure that those judged to pose a grave risk to public safety do not have access to firearms and that if they do, those firearms can be taken through rapid due process," Trump said during a scripted address at the White House Monday morning.

The state law requires clear and convincing evidence of an individual's instability before guns can be seized.

"I am extremely comfortable and I welcome the ability to keep my community safe," said Flynn regarding his potential role in the process.


Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.