MINEOLA, Long Island (WABC) -- A new bill in the New York State legislature would make it easier for law enforcement to seize the weapons of people who threaten mass harm and for prosecutors to seek prison time against them.
Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas drafted the bill, which makes two new crimes in the New York penal code.
Making a Threat of Mass Harm would be punishable by up to a year in prison, while the elevated crime of Aggravated Threat of Mass Harm would be punishable by up to four years in prison. In cases of Aggravated Threat of Mass Harm, the defendant would have to be convicted of making a plan, compiling a target list or possessing any weapon or device.
"School threats have skyrocketed since the Parkland tragedy, causing lockdowns, panic, and have diverted law enforcement resources from their lifesaving work," Singas said. "We need stronger laws that criminalize phony threats and protect our communities from the horrific violence that has stolen so many lives."
Both charges permit police to obtain search warrants to seize people's weapons.
"Law enforcement needs every available tool to protect our schools and communities from mass shootings and other violence," said state Senator Todd Kaminsky, who has introduced the bill in the state Senate. "The fact that someone in our state could say that he is going to 'Columbine' a school and yet police are nearly powerless to take action shows that our laws needs strengthening."
The bill will be introduced in the Assembly by Assemblywoman Christine Pellegrino.
* More Long Island news
* Send us a news tip
* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts
Mass harm threats punishable with prison time under New York State bill