A New York State Supreme Court Justice ruled last week that New York’s Extreme Risk Protection Order laws, often called Red Flag laws are unconstitutional and declined to issue an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO). As we have written in the past, extreme risk protections have become very popular in anti-gun states and are a way for government officials to take away the Second Amendment rights of individuals who have not committed any crime. Yet, New York’s Red Flag laws were expanded in July of 2022. Justice Thomas E. Moran, of the Rochester based Monroe County Supreme Court struck down these laws in a 10 page decision, in a case entitled G.W. v. C.N., 2022 NY Slip Op 22392 (Monroe County Sup. Ct. 2022).
This particular case highlights everything wrong with Red Flag laws. The Petitioner who filed for the Extreme Risk Protection Order was the estranged boy friend of the Respondent who was a licensed gun owner in New York State. He alleged that his ex-girlfriend was a danger to herself and others and obtained a Temporary Extreme Risk Protection Order. Justice Moran pointed out that the Petition cited a variety of statements that the Respondent allegedly made threatening to harm herself with a gun which the Petition falsely claimed were made within 6 months before the Petition was filed but in fact dated back to 2020 and 2021. The Court also pointed out that there was a Family Court case also going on in which The Petitioner had an Order of Protection against him which among other things barred him from the home that they had shared.
Turning to the Constitutionality of the Article 63-A, which lays out New York’s Red Flag laws and procedures, the Court cited the United States Supreme Court decisions in Heller, McDonald and most recently Bruen and applied the Bruen Standard that when the 2nd Amendment’s text covers a person’s conduct, a law which regulates that conduct is presumptively unconstitutional unless the State can demonstrate that the regulation is consistent with the country’s historical tradition of firearms regulations.