Amedning Red Flag Law
We strongly support Governor Hochul and the Legislature for their swift and comprehensive response to the terrible tragedies in Buffalo and Texas. There is one part of the package, however, that is a concern for advocates in regard to mental health stigma.
A. 10502 (Cahill)/S.9113-A (Skoufis) which amends the Red Flag Law, however unintentionally, unfairly conflates mental health issues and violence.
Look at the Facts:
Only 4% of violent crimes are perpetrated by someone with a serious mental health issue
People with mental health issue are at least 12 times more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators of violence
There are serious mental health issues all over the world, yet the United States alone has repeated mass shootings
This legislation amplifies the existing standards around people with serious mental health issues as part of an extreme risk protective order (Red Flag Law). The diagnosis of mental illness alone should not be the proxy for predicting violent behavior. Other factors are better predictors, including past convictions for violent crimes, domestic violence and other demonstrated violent actions and/or threats.
Using mental health as lone proxy for the need for an extreme risk protective order perpetuates stigma. Both Legislative sponsors are strong mental health advocates, and we urge them to modify their language and put greater emphasis around violent risk factors and not a mental illness diagnosis.