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Tipsheet

Upstate NY DA Defends Red Flag Law, But Admits There’s ‘Potential for Abuse’

This Saturday New York will become the 13th state to enact Red Flag laws. Erie County District Attorney John Flynn offered a candid preview of what New Yorkers can expect in a radio interview with WBEN 930 am on Thursday.

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"It will be a huge change," Flynn said

The law will allow him to go into civil court, even before someone is arrested, and get a Supreme Court judge to get an order against a gun owning or gun possessing individual who is acting erratically or appears mentally unstable. The order would permit the DA to take that gun away from that person, or prevent that person from going into a store and purchasing one. 

Flynn called it an "extremely proactive measure that hopefully will keep our community safe."

The radio hosts voiced gun owners' concerns that the Red Flag Law would be an infringement on their Second Amendment rights. 

"I am a firm believer in the right to bear arms," Flynn responded, before explaining how the measure will provide protections and due process for defendants. When the DA goes into court and asks for an order, there has to be probable cause for determination. It's a temporary 3-6 days order, then the individual gets a hearing, where the standard of proof is elevated to clear and convincing evidence.

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Yet, Flynn admitted that there will be cases where individuals will try to take advantage of the measure.

"I agree there’s potential for abuse here," he said. "If some spouse is made at their husband or wife and they get into an argument and they try to just get back at their spouse. They can come and lie to me. He’s got a gun, when they really might not be mentally disturbed."

"But all I can say is that I can see through nonsense," the DA noted.

"I’m going to be fair," Flynn promised. "I’m not going to willy nilly go in and take people’s guns that have a constitutional right to keep them." 

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) plans to introduce bipartisan Red Flag Law legislation in the wake of the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton. He said President Trump is "very supportive" of the proposal.

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