Last year, 18-year-old Payton Gendron, the gunman accused of opening fire and killing 10 people at a Buffalo grocery, was investigated for making a threatening statement at his high school, the Associated Press reports. New York has a "red flag" law designed to keep firearms away from people who can harm themselves or others, but Gendron was not subjected to the law. He still was able to buy an AR-15-style rifle legally. The threat he made at his school last June resulted in state police being called and a mental health evaluation at a hospital. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said that Gendron had talked about murder and suicide when a teacher asked about his plans after school ended. It was quickly reported but the threat wasn't considered specific enough to do more. No request was made to remove firearms from Gendron. These revelations raise questions about why the law wasn't invoked,
Red-flag laws are typically intended to remove guns temporarily from people with potentially violent behavior. Weapons can be removed for up to a year, but that requires a hearing in which prosecutors must convince a judge that the person poses a risk. Often, family members or law enforcement must petition the court for an order, though New York permits educators to start the process. New York is the first state to give teachers and school administrators the ability "to prevent school shootings by pursuing court intervention." The description of the law, expresses optimism about the law's impact, saying it would safeguard gun rights "while ensuring that tragedies, like the school shooting in Parkland, Fl., are not repeated." The question is why one wasn't used in Gendron's case.