Give teachers a courtroom, not a handgun.
That is the idea behind legislation announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday to give school officials more resources for preventing a possible school shooting.
Under the “red flag” bill, school staff, family members and officers could petition a judge to confiscate weapons available to an individual who has mental health issues and has a high risk of harming themselves or others. Cuomo said such an option is more practical and effective than President Donald Trump’s controversial proposal to arm teachers.
“We think it is the logical, sensible and intelligent way forward in this situation,” the governor said of the “red flag” bill. “Teachers are not there to carry firearms and engage in shootouts in a school setting.”
Cuomo made the announcement at his Midtown office flanked by gun control activists, including Aalayah Eastmond, a survivor of the Feb. 14 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.
Current law allows judges to place an “extreme protection order” and remove a person’s weapons only during a criminal or family offense hearing.
“A teacher doesn’t have a legal right to start a legal proceeding against a student,” Cuomo explained.
If the bill is passed, a judge would gather testimony and evidence from both the concerned teacher, parent and law enforcement member as well as the accused person before rendering their decision.
The United Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of Teachers both endorsed the bill.
“What teachers and other instructors have said to me is that the shooter showed signs that they were a troubled soul,” said AFT president Randi Weingarten. “The proposal that the governor is making today would empower educators and school staff … to act, while ensuring the student’s due process rights.”
The bill does appear to have a roadblock in Albany. Cuomo said state Republicans do not support the legislation at this time, however he expressed confidence that enough New Yorkers would push their elected officials to sign off on the proposal.