Hochul Pledges to Crack Down on Guns, Battle Domestic Terrorism Following Buffalo Attack

buffalo attack
Governor Hochul announces support for comprehensive package to combat rise in domestic terrorism, strengthen state gun laws and crack down on social media platforms that promote extremist acts of violence in wake of racist mass shooting in Buffalo.
Darren McGee/Office of Governor Kathy Hochul

By Isabel Song Beer

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Wednesday pledged to expand enforcement of New York State’s “red flag” laws and take steps to squash domestic terrorists in the wake of last weekend’s mass shooting in Buffalo.

Hochul spoke about the victims and their families who have been impacted due to the violence of the shooting, as well as what her administration pledges to do to ensure domestic terrorism and racist-fueled violence never return to the state.

“I spoke about that half of the broken heart that is grieving,” said Hochul during her address on May 18. “But the other half of that heart is filled with anger right now. Because you can’t witness what happens to a community like this, and not feel angry, otherwise you’re not really human.”

The executive package Hochul signed into effect on Wednesday would require State Police to seize weapons under the New York State ‘red flag’ laws from potentially dangerous people.

The executive order would also require that semi-automatic handguns made or sold in New York would feature ammunition fitted with a microstamp every time the weapon is fired, which would also help law enforcement investigate gun crimes.

Further legislation would require law enforcement officers to report any firearm located from a crime scene within 24 hours, as well as new laws that would expand upon the definition of firearms to include additional types of guns.

“Stakeholders need to be communicating and sharing information so that – guess what – they can start to connect the dots,” Hochul said. “That’s what we did after 9/11 and that’s what we are going to do now. When you get the law enforcement, the mental health professionals and in some cases school professionals actually communicating what they’re seeing, we have a much better opportunity to be in the prevention business, instead of just the clean-up business.”

There to deliver the message about gun violence and counteracting white supremacy was Reverend Al Sharpton, who had announced earlier that his civil rights organization, National Action Network (NAN), would be paying for the funerals of the victims.

“This kind of bigotry, racism and violence [is not] something the victims have to bear alone,” said Sharpton. This has reached a proportion that is an existential threat to this country.”

Sharpton called for a national strategy on dealing with racial hate just on Tuesday, saying that the proliferation of online hate-speech on social media platforms was another factor of the spread of violence.

“It didn’t just drop out the sky,” said Sharpton earlier this week. “It happened because it was methodically organized.”

The intersection of “hateful, evil thoughts” with physical violence, was indeed because of access to firearms, Hochul added.

“People are wondering how you have the right to acquire a weapon in the first place,” said Hochul. “We have red flag laws in place to prevent exactly this situation. But guess what? They need to be strengthened now. We have found a way they need to be made better.”

This story first appeared on amNY.com.

Sign up for Long Island Press’ email newsletters here. Sign up for home delivery of Long Island Press here. Sign up for discounts by becoming a Long Island Press community partner here.