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Governor Hochul and Attorney General James Announce Major Expansion in Red Flag Law Usage to Protect New Yorkers from Gun Violence

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Oct 25, 2022 - 08:03 AM

October 24, 2022 – Governor Kathy Hochul and Attorney General Letitia James today announced a major expansion in usage of New York State’s Red Flag Law to further protect New Yorkers from gun violence. Following an executive order and legislation signed by Governor Hochul to strengthen implementation of the law, courts across the State have issued 1,908 Extreme Risk Protection Orders, more than doubling the number of orders issued since the law became effective on August 25, 2019. Governor Hochul and Attorney General James also announced a $4.6 million increase to the Attorney General’s FY23 budget to further support the New York State Police’s efforts to obtain Extreme Risk Protection Orders when individuals pose a danger to themselves or others.

“Protecting New Yorkers is my top priority, and the expansion of the Red Flag Law is taking dangerous, deadly weapons away from those who pose a threat to themselves or others and preventing violence and tragedy,” Governor Hochul said. “Working closely with the Attorney General and the State Police, we will continue to work to ensure effective implementation of the law to combat gun violence and save lives.”

“Keeping guns away from dangerous individuals is a common sense way to save New Yorkers’ lives,” said Attorney General James. “Extreme risk protection orders have helped avert tragedies and protect communities. These funds will allow my office to better support our partners in the New York State Police, promote public safety, and help save more lives throughout our state. I thank Governor Hochul for taking this action, and we’ll continue to work together to combat crime and keep New Yorkers safe.”

The Red Flag Law, also known as the Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) law, prevents individuals who show signs of being a threat to themselves or others from purchasing or possessing any kind of firearm. The Red Flag Law provides procedural safeguards to ensure that no firearm is removed without due process while helping to prevent tragedies, like the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, and the racist mass shooting in Buffalo.

Governor Hochul and Attorney General James announced the substantial increase in the Red Flag Law’s use and new funding to support State Police efforts to implement the Law. Currently, Troopers make applications to the court for an ERPO on their own, but with the drastic increase in applications, there is a need for consistent legal representation to ensure the process to remove firearms from potentially dangerous individuals works effectively. The additional $4.6 million will allow the Attorney General’s Office to add dozens of staff positions to represent the State Police and bolster their efforts to obtain these orders and better protect New Yorkers.

Four days after the racially motivated mass shooting in Buffalo, Governor Hochul issued an executive order requiring State Police to expand their use of the Red Flag Law to help prevent shootings. Since then, Troopers have applied for 339 orders, more than three times the number of applications made last year, and courts have approved 86.5 percent of those applications.

New York State Police Acting Superintendent Steven Nigrelli said, “While we are proud of that high rate, we would like to see all of our applications approved. There’s no doubt that with the legal expertise of the Attorney General’s Office we can maximize our use of the law and further succeed with our ultimate goal: to keep individuals safe.”

After Governor Hochul signed the executive order on May 18, 2022, she worked with the Legislature to pass a new law that now requires law enforcement, medical and mental health providers, and selected education staff to petition the court for an order when they see an individual is risk of serious harm to themselves or others.

Last week, Governor Hochul and Attorney General James released a report on the role of online platforms in the Buffalo mass shooting. In accordance with a referral from the Governor, the Office of the Attorney General reviewed thousands of pages of documents and social media content to examine how the alleged shooter used online platforms to plan, prepare, and publicize his attack.

The State Division of Criminal Justice Services partnered with Everytown for Gun Safety to host a webinar in late August to educate law enforcement about their responsibilities under the new law. More than 800 people registered for the training, which is available to the public and has been viewed nearly 2,400 times since being posted in early September.

The number of total ERPOs issued more than doubled since June 1 — going from 1,552 between August 25, 2019 and June 1, 2022 to 3,460 as of October 1, 2022 — an increase of 1,908 ERPOs.

Final ERPOs have increased from 614 to 1,410, an increase of 130 percent, and temporary ERPOs have increased from 938 to 2,050, an increase of 119 percent. The average number of ERPOs issued a month increased to 403 from June 2022 through October 2022, compared to just 45 per month from October 2019 through May 2022.

Source: New York State

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