MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) - Lawmakers in Nassau County want to close a loophole in state law that they say lets people get away with making threats of mass violence.
It stems from a 2017 decision in which a school employee allegedly told a faculty member she "better be absent the day they fire me because I'm going to come in here and Columbine this s***."
An appellate court ruled the remark was insufficient to support a charge of making a terroristic threat. The defendant later requested the return of weapons taken by police, including an AR-15-style rifle and more.
"School threats have skyrocketed since the Parkland tragedy causing lockdowns, panic, and have diverted law enforcement resources from their lifesaving work," Nassau County DA Madeline Singas said. "We need stronger laws that criminalize phony threats and protect our communities from the horrific violence that has stolen so many lives."
"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," said State Senator Todd Kaminsky, who introduced a bill to address the matter to the legislature. "This bill will allow law enforcement to arrest those who make threats of mass harm, and, importantly, provides them a basis to seize weapons from perpetrators of these threats."
If the bill becomes law and making a threat of mass harm becomes a punishable offense, those convicted would face up to a year in jail. A more serious threat could bring a charge of aggravated threat of mass harm, which would carry a sentence of up to four years in prison.
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