Hochul tightens security, state gun laws in wake of deadly Texas elementary school shooting

Deadly Mass Shooting at Texas Elementary School
Governor Kathy Hochul Addresses Deadly Mass Shooting at Texas Elementary School. Photo from governor’s YouTube press feed.

Governor Kathy Hochul Wednesday proposed additional action to strengthen and close loopholes in state gun laws in the wake of a horrific mass shooting in Texas that claimed the lives of at least 21 people – including 19 elementary school children. 

The actions include directing State Police to increase visibility at schools in their patrol areas statewide. This increased presence includes check-ins at schools to be conducted by both uniform and plainclothes members. This effort will continue through the end of the school year.

“These are steps we shouldn’t have to take, but I am convening an emergency meeting of the state’s School Safety Improvement Team and directing State Police to increase visibility at schools to make sure we are doing everything in our power to prevent the next tragedy,” said Hochul.

“My administration will continue working to strengthen the gun laws in our state and put an end to these horrific acts, so that everyone—from schoolchildren to those shopping for groceries to those visiting houses of worship—can live without fear that their lives will be cut short by a weapon of war,” the governor added.

Last week, in direct response to the white supremacist act of terror that claimed 10 lives at a supermarket in Buffalo, Hochul unveiled a comprehensive plan to combat the steady rise in domestic terrorism and violent extremism, strengthen state gun laws and crack down on social media platforms that host and amplify content that promotes and broadcasts violent acts.

The package included the issuing to two key Executive Orders. The first Executive Order will establish a new unit within the Office of Counterterrorism dedicated solely to the prevention of domestic terrorism, while also establishing a dedicated State Police unit to track domestic violent extremism through social media. 

The second Executive Order will require State Police to file for an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) under New York State’s Red Flag Law whenever they have probable cause to believe that an individual is a threat to themselves or others.

As part of the package, Hochul is also pushing a series of legislative measures designed to help law enforcement investigate and prevent gun-related crimes. The Governor is proposing new legislation to close the “other gun” loophole by revising and widening the definition of a firearm, making more guns subject to various preexisting firearm laws.

Hochul outlined these plans at the second meeting Wednesday of the Intra-State Gun Tracing Consortium at the New York State Intelligence Center in East Greenbush. The meeting included representatives from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the United States Attorney’s Office, the Office of the Attorney General, the New York City Police Department, the Port Authority Police Department and various local law enforcement agencies and district attorneys. 

The group discussed recent gun seizure data and recent strategies to get illegal guns off the streets and protect New Yorkers.

At the meeting, Hochul also provided an update on law enforcement efforts to get illegal guns off our streets. State Police gun seizures are up 60 percent per month since the January inception of the Interstate Task Force on Illegal Guns. 

In 2022, State Police have seized 513 guns. In total, over that span, law enforcement agencies across the state have seized approximately 4,000 guns, including more than 250 ghost guns.

Additionally, State Police continue their aggressive gun-tracing efforts. In 2022, State Police have conducted 299 gun-tracing investigations. From these cases, they have forwarded 53 investigative leads to 22 states. These cases represent people from other states who were arrested in New York for illegally possessing or trafficking firearms.