NEW YORK — Two days after teaming up with New York Mayor Eric Adams to roll out a new subway safety plan, Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday joined state Attorney General Letitia James to detail enhanced efforts in the state’s anti-gun battle, including a marked expansion in use of the state’s so-called red flag law.
Hochul, who signed red flag legislation in June requiring that authorities respond to credible threats by pursuing extreme risk protection orders preventing people from acquiring or possessing firearms, said the state is now issuing about nine times as many risk orders per month as it was before the law was enacted.
“Our red flag laws are working,” Hochul said at a news conference with James at the State Capitol in Albany. “I want to thank law enforcement throughout the state. They have had to step up. They have had to be trained. They have had to rethink their mission. But these times call for that.”
The governor also held a news conference in August hailing successes of the red flag law, which she signed less than a month after a brutal mass shooting in her hometown of Buffalo. She appears to have deepened her focus on public safety as New Yorkers’ concerns about crime dominate fall midterm election races.
Hochul, a Democrat who is seeking to become the first woman elected governor of New York after replacing former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, is facing an unexpectedly fierce challenge from Rep. Lee Zeldin, a Trump-tied Republican from Long Island with a law-and-order message.
Hochul said Monday that she understands New Yorkers’ anxieties about crime rates that flared higher during the pandemic and, in many cases, are still rising.
“New Yorkers want to know this: Are you focused on this? Are you taking steps? Are you making a difference?” Hochul said of crime. “The answer is: Yes.”
The state will provide the attorney general’s office with a $4.6 million budget infusion supporting a new unit of lawyers and staffers dedicated to completing cops’ requests for extreme risk protection orders, according to James’ office.
“This is an issue that is impacting all of us,” James said, noting that the attorneys will be spread across the state. “We know that these laws work. We know that they can save lives and prevent tragedies.”
Between October 2019 and May 2022, New York officials issued about 45 extreme risk protection orders per month, according to Hochul’s office. The tally has jumped to about 403 per month over the last five months, the governor’s office said.