Governor Kathy Hochul introduced an array of executive orders and new legislation Wednesday in response to a mass shooting in Buffalo last week.
The Associated Press reports Hochul’s announcement came days after a White 18-year-old wearing military gear killed 10 Black shoppers and workers at the supermarket using a rifle purchased legally a few months ago.
New York is among states that have a “red flag” law, which allows law enforcement officials to petition a court to take away someone’s guns if they are potentially dangerous because of a mental health problem.
That law was in place last spring when state police questioned the shooting suspect over comments he made as a high school student about wanting to commit a murder-suicide. He was taken to a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation under a state mental health law, and released a day and a half later.
State Police did not, however, initiate the court process to temporarily take away the suspect’s access to guns following the incident.
Hochul said state police must now file for extreme risk protection orders under New York’s red flag law when they have probable cause to believe someone is a threat to themselves or others.
According to State Police Superintendent Kevin Bruen, State police themselves have successfully applied for 300 of over 1,000 protection orders granted by courts under the red flag law, which became effective in fall 2019.
Hochul said such orders typically last for one year but can be renewed. Courts can bar people from possessing or buying firearms or order them to give up firearms.
Hochul’s executive order mostly affects people who interact with police on the highway or people who live outside of New York City and the state’s biggest communities: New York state police serve the state’s highway system and typically rural communities in need of law enforcement assistance.
New York will also track and try to stop violent domestic extremism on social media through new units in the state police and the state’s Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services.
The new units will fund local threat assessment management teams, as well as track and intervene when people show signs of radicalization through their social media posts. New York will also train law enforcement, school and mental health professionals about the uptick in domestic and homegrown violent extremism and radicalization.
The governor wants lawmakers to pass her bill to make more kinds of guns subject to the state’s firearm laws. Hochul said the nation has almost become desensitized to the devastation of mass shootings and gun violence, and the spread of extremist ideology online.
Attorney General Letitia James simultaneously announced the launch of an investigation into social media companies that the suspected shooter allegedly used to discuss his plans for the killings.
Domestic terror attacks and plots have tripled nationally in the past decade, the governor’s office noted Wednesday. The office stated there were 73 terrorist attacks or unearthed plots in the U.S. last year, including 38 White supremacist and similarly like-minded attacks or plots.