State bills aimed at gun violence and enhanced mental health services advance

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— The New York Senate voted to increase state funding to help schools pay for armed police and security upgrades Monday, while the State Assembly approved a series of gun control measures on Tuesday which include bills to keep weapons away from domestic abusers and people deemed likely to cause harm.

In the SenateThe Senate’s bills include measures to mandate two annual active-shooter drills and set aside money for mental health services coordinators in local schools, according to the Associated Press.

“As legislators, it is our duty to make sure that our students and teachers are safe when they go to school," said State Sen. John J. Bonacic (R/C/I-Mt. Hope) in a statement. “The Senate has acted decisively today to enhance safety measures, and provide students, parents, teachers and staff peace of mind during the school day.”

The Senate bills also include the creation of a school resource officers education aid program, give peace officer status for school resource officers and upgrade school safety improvement teams.

Special "Guardians for Schools" vanity license plates, to raise money for armed guards in schools, are also part of a package of legislation, according to the AP.

Another bill would change penalties to make the criminal discharge of a gun within 1,000 feet of a school or place of worship eligible to be considered a terrorist act, the AP said.

In the AssemblyOn Tuesday, the Assembly passed a legislative package also aimed at preventing gun violence and keeping dangerous people from accessing firearms.

“We’ve stood by and watched the federal government sit idly while innocent children continue to lose their lives,” said Assemblyman James Skoufis (D-Woodbury) in a statement. “Students are literally begging lawmakers to help keep them safe, an unthinkable situation. We must redouble efforts to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, and, moving forward, I will do everything in my power to work toward that end.”

One piece of legislation allows an immediate family member or law enforcement to petition a judge to bar anyone deemed to pose a serious risk of harm from purchasing or possessing a firearm.

"This legislation is not perfect, make no mistake, but, for anyone who has been yelling about mental health and making sure dangerous individuals can’t get their hands on a firearm, that is exactly what this bill does," added Skoufis in a statement.

Another Assembly bill prohibits the possession, manufacture, transport, shipment and sale of bump stocks and devices that accelerate the firing rate of firearms,

Additionally, the Assembly passed the Domestic Violence Escalation Prevention Act to prevent people convicted of domestic violence crimes from purchasing or possessing firearms to curb this disturbing trend

The Assembly package also includes measures to extend the period by which law enforcement has to investigate a questionable background check during a firearm purchase from three days to 10 days.

Individuals without any background check issues will not be affected, rather the measure is aimed at those people who raise flags during a background check.

- Nancy Kriz
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