In wake of Buffalo massacre, Hochul vows action on guns, extremism

Gov. Kathy Hochul called the last few days the most difficult of her life, following the horrific mass shooting in Buffalo that left 10 people dead. Now, she's promising action.

"Does anyone think this is a gun? Our laws don't," Hochul said, holding up a large gun.

It's called an AOW, or any other weapon, according to Hochul, and it's legal to purchase in New York.

"This is just one of those enormous loopholes that you can drive a truck through," Hochul said.

And it's one of many loopholes Hochul vows to close.

Signing an executive order, Hochul will be requiring that every county and New York City develop plans to identify and confront threats of domestic terrorism, including racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists. These plans must be submitted by the end of the year.

It will also require that two new units, one within the State Police and the other within the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, use social media to track and prevent violent extremism.

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"The truth is the most serious threat we face as a nation is from within," Hochul said. "Not from the Russians or from people elsewhere. It's white supremacism, it's white nationalism."

Pointing to how social media was used by the alleged Buffalo shooter, Hochul also directed Attorney General Letitia James to open an investigation into the role these social media platforms played in the Buffalo shooting. These companies include Twitch, 4chan, 8chan and Discord.

"These social media platforms have to take responsibility," Hochul said. "They must be more vigilant in monitoring the content and they must be held accountable for favoring engagement over public safety."

Hochul also said she wants to strengthen the state's red flag law, which prevents people who show signs of being a threat to either themselves or others from either buying or having a firearm. She signed another executive order requiring the State Police to file an extreme risk order of protection under the red flag law if someone is believed to pose a threat to others. Previously, this was just optional.

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"Now it'll be required," Hochul said. "It will provide law enforcement the guidance they need and the criteria to follow."

But the work is not over here. Hochul also wants to see those red flag law changes solidified by the Legislature and she is also supporting at least three bills that will have to be approved by the Legislature before the session is over in two weeks. These include:

  1. A bill that would require all semiautomatic pistols sold in New York to be microstamping-enabled. This way, each bullet fired from the pistol has a "unique fingerprint" making it easier to trace.
  2. A bill that would close the "AOW" or "any other gun" loophole by revising and widening the state's definition of a firearm to make those guns subject to existing firearm laws.
  3. And a bill that would require all law enforcement agencies report the recovery of any crime gun within 24 hours of their discovery.