The Suffolk County Legislature this past week unanimously approved a new gun safety control measure aimed at keeping weapons out of the hands of involuntary psychiatric patients.
The measure, sponsored by Legis. Kara Hahn, D-Setauket, mandates law enforcement officials crosscheck the names and addresses of individuals transported to Stony Brook University's Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program against the county's pistol license registries.
"In the days following all mass shootings there is always a search for missed warning signs," Hahn said. "An involuntary transport to a psychiatric emergency room should be a red flag of an individual's mental state. My goal is to never have to look back following a tragedy and ask 'how this warning or that red flag was missed.'"
In January, New York State adopted the mental health provisions of the NY Safe Act of 2013, which allows for cross checking potentially unstable individuals against a not yet created statewide pistol license database.
The county's legislation takes this one step further by requiring police officers to make immediate referrals to the licensing bureau. This is already common practice in handling domestic violence-related calls.
"When Legislator Hahn brought this idea to my attention, I implemented it immediately because it has the potential to save lives," said Edward Weber, Suffolk County's police commissioner.
The bill will go to Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone for his signature. If signed, the new law will impact the towns of Babylon, Brookhaven, Huntington, Islip and Smithtown.
• Parks appointment for Bellone's wife withdrawn
The Suffolk legislature has withdrawn a resolution that would make County Executive Steve Bellone's wife, Tracey, an unpaid parks trustee.
Newsday reported that the motion was withdrawn after the county's attorney discovered Tracey Bellone, the Town of Babylon's deputy parks commissioner, could not serve in the unpaid position because a county code prohibits state or town officials from becoming a parks appointee.
The legislature is expected to introduce a bill that would amend the county code. A resolution to appoint Tracey Bellone as a parks trustee could be filed again after the changes are made.