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Hochul says red flag law usage has doubled since an executive order and new laws were passed

Don Pollard
New York Governor Kathy Hochul announces a major increase in applications for Extreme Risk Protection Orders under New York's Red Flag Law which protects New Yorkers from gun violence caused by individuals who pose a risk to themselves or others.

Governor Kathy Hochul said gun safety laws passed after the Buffalo mass shooting that killed 10 people are reporting some success.

After the Buffalo supermarket shooting, where 10 African-Americans died, Governor Hochul ordered the state police to automatically invoke the state’s Red Flag laws and asked a judge for an order to temporarily seize the guns and other weapons of anyone they think might be a threat to themselves or others.

Hochul, speaking on Long Island, said in the 88 days since that directive, the issuance of the orders of protection have increased by 94%, with over 184 orders being issued over the past three months. That’s double the number for this same time period in 2021.

“We’re talking about connecting the dots before something happens,” said Hochul. “I want to be in the business of preventing crimes more so than trying to solve crimes. A Red Flag (law) allows us to do that.”

The alleged Buffalo shooter threated to commit a murder-suicide at his high school in 2021, and authorities were notified, but the Red Flag laws were never used.

Since Hochul issued the order to the state police, the legislature passed a law requiring that all law enforcement agencies in New York invoke the Red Flag laws whenever they believe someone might be a threat.

State police superintendent Kevin Bruen said it’s harder to demonstrate when something doesn’t happen, than when it does, but he said he believes the stepped up Red Flag orders have prevented serious injuries and even deaths.

“It’s not possible for me to tell you a specific case of something that didn’t happen because we did this, but I know in my heart of hearts we have stopped specific tragedies from happening,” Bruen said. “Because we took action.”

Hochul also announced that the state’s Division of Criminal Justice Services will provide training for law enforcement agencies statewide to learn how to better use the Red Flag laws.

Karen has covered state government and politics for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 New York and Connecticut stations, since 1990. She is also a regular contributor to the statewide public television program about New York State government, New York Now. She appears on the reporter’s roundtable segment, and interviews newsmakers.