ALBANY — Governor Andrew M. Cuomo Wednesday signed legislation limiting an educational institution's ability to authorize any person who is not primarily employed as a school resource officer, law enforcement officer or security guard to carry a firearm on school grounds, and directing State Police to establish statewide regulations aimed at strengthening existing gun buyback programs and create new programs for the safe removal of illegal, unsecured, abandoned or unwanted firearms.
This legislation builds on New York's strongest in the nation gun laws, including the Red Flag Bill signed in February that prevents individuals who show signs of being a threat to themselves or others from purchasing or possessing a firearm, legislation Governor Cuomo signed July 29 extending the background check waiting period and banning bump stocks and legislation signed yesterday banning undetectable guns and expanding firearm safe storage laws to protection children.
"The answer to the gun violence epidemic plaguing this country has never been and never will be more guns, and today we're expanding New York's nation-leading gun safety laws to further protect our children," Governor Cuomo said. "These measures will help slow the proliferation of guns by keeping unneeded firearms out of school zones and helping to ensure unwanted or illegal guns don't fall into dangerous hands."
"Senseless and horrific gun violence continues to impact children and families across the nation," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "In New York, we're proud to lead the nation with common sense gun safety measures to protect New Yorkers. This legislation will prevent teachers from being armed and establishes gun buyback programs to keep firearms off school grounds and ensure the protection of young people. While the federal government turns its back on gun violence and prevention, we're committed to preventing tragedies and saving lives."
Preventing School Districts from Arming Teachers
In the wake of a rising number of deadly school shootings occurring across our nation, many have suggested that teachers and other school employees should be trained and armed to help deter and prevent future school shootings, even though educators nationwide have disapproved of the idea of carrying guns. Additionally, introducing guns into schools could create the potential for accidental shootings or other acts of violence. This legislation stipulates that educational institutions can't issue written authorization to carry a gun to any teacher, professor, administrator or other person who is not primarily employed as a school resource officer, law enforcement officer or security guard. The bill takes effect immediately.
Senator Todd Kaminsky said, "While hundreds of districts across the country have decided to arm teachers in response to mass shootings, in New York, we said, 'not here. Arming classroom teachers is dangerous and takes our focus off of getting weapons out of the hands of those who should not have them. I thank Governor Cuomo for signing this vital piece of legislation -- our children's safety demands no less."
Assembly Member Judy Griffin said, "Arming teachers with guns can only lead to additional tragedies. While we will always remember the victims of Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, this legislation ensures that teachers will never have the burden of choosing between protecting their students or themselves from a violent shooter. I was proud to introduce this legislation in the New York State Assembly and I thank Governor Cuomo for signing it into law so that the children of New York State will be able to learn in a safe environment without the threat of unintended consequences from a gun in their classroom."
Statewide Regulations for Gun Buyback Programs
There are many different gun buyback programs across the state that allow individuals to dispose of illegal, unsecured, abandoned or unwanted firearms. While these programs are increasing in popularity, they currently lack a consistent set of standards and do not occur everywhere in the state. This legislation directs the State Police to work with the Department of State to establish regulations for gun buyback programs so that all buyback programs across the state are operated consistently with uniform best practices, and that these programs take place in every county in the state.
These standards aim to help ensure that gun buyback programs accomplish their stated goals of reducing the proliferation of guns in neighborhoods and that the programs are easily accessible to the public. The bill will take effect 180 days after becoming law.