ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Other View: Lagging flags: Opportunities to flag Buffalo shooter came and went

None of the red flags appear to have been raised to the authorities, at least not high enough for them to seek an order preventing his purchase of a semi-automatic rifle.

OPED-BUFFALO-SHOOTING-EDITORIAL-GET
Police on scene at a Tops Friendly Market on Saturday, May 14, 2022, in Buffalo, New York.
John Normile/Getty Images/TNS
We are part of The Trust Project.

An unseen flag signifies nothing: Ships at sea don’t hoist their flags below deck. The same rule applies, or should, to the red flags codified by New York’s Extreme Risk Protection Order law, whereby people, including teachers and family members, can petition a court to signal law enforcement and firearm sellers that an individual may well pose a serious danger if allowed a gun.

The racist killer who cut down 10 lives in a Buffalo supermarket exhibited a number of red flags — a threat to commit mass murder at his school, an obsession with firearms, and a violent strain of anti-Black hostility.

None appear to have been raised to the authorities, at least not high enough for them to seek an order preventing his purchase of the Bushmaster XM-15 semi-automatic rifle. Indeed, since the law’s 2019 enactment, the shooter’s home of Broome County has issued just 24 temporary and final orders of protection, about half the per-capita rate of nearby Onondaga County. (While we’re on the subject, why was an 18-year-old able to buy a gun, much less a high-powered one? Raise the age to 21.)

Authorities missed a second chance to save lives when the shooter was briefly held for a mental health evaluation after making that first threat of violence. A provision in the 2013 SAFE Act requires mental health professionals to report those likely to harm themselves or others so they can have firearms confiscated — and that’s in addition to a 2021 expansion of the red flag law that also directs mental health facilities to seek protection orders for dangerous people. Neither appears to have been tripped here.

It’s also absurd that a simple and easily reversible modification rendered this assault weapon legal in New York. At long last, eliminate all carve-outs allowing civilian ownership of semi-automatic rifles that can fire dozens of rounds without so much as swapping out a magazine. And not just at the state level. Make another push to reinstate the assault weapon and high-capacity magazine ban, Mr. President.

ADVERTISEMENT

©2022 New York Daily News
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

What to read next
When a developer wants to raze former single-family dwellings and replace them with high-density, multi-family housing, owners of neighboring single-family homes generally don't put out their welcome mats.
Over the weekend, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre confirmed that President Joe Biden remains opposed to the idea of court-packing following the United States Supreme Court’s controversial ruling on abortion.
Of all the stunning revelations emerging from hearings of the House Select Committee on Jan. 6, 2021, the testimony from those facing physical threats is the most disturbing.
Virtually no smoker today is unaware of the health risks — they’ve been widely known to the public for generations — but the addictive nature of cigarettes keeps them puffing.