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Gov. Hochul Signs Landmark Legislation Package to Strengthen Gun Laws and Protect New Yorkers

Governor Kathy Hochul today signed a landmark legislative package to immediately strengthen the state’s gun laws, close critical loopholes exposed by shooters in Buffalo and Uvalde and protect New Yorkers from the scourge of gun violence that continues to infect our nation and endanger our communities. Governor Hochul signed the bills at the Northeast Bronx YMCA flanked by Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Speaker Carl Heastie, partners in the legislature, Attorney General Letitia James and victims and survivors of gun violence.  

“Gun violence is an epidemic that is tearing our country apart. Thoughts and prayers won’t fix this, but taking strong action will,” Governor Hochul said. “In New York, we’re taking bold steps to protect the people of our state. I am proud to sign a comprehensive bill package that prohibits the sale of semiautomatic weapons to people under 21, bans body armor sales outside of people in select professions, closes critical gun law loopholes and strengthens our Red Flag Law to keep guns away from dangerous people—new measures that I believe will save lives. I am thankful to Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, Speaker Heastie, and all our legislative partners for acting with the urgency and thoughtfulness that this issue demands. While we are taking expedient action to enhance New York State’s nation-leading gun laws, we recognize that gun violence is a nationwide problem. I once again urge Congress to follow our lead and take immediate action to pass meaningful gun violence prevention measures. Lives depend on it.”  

“There is a scourge of gun violence in our country due to the pervasiveness of illegal firearms. Year after year, our neighborhoods are flooded with illegal guns and ghost guns, tormenting families and law-abiding citizens every day, but yet the national response does not change,” Lieutenant Governor Delgado said. “In New York, we just passed common-sense gun safety legislation and more kids will live to see their high school graduation because of it. In the fight to save lives, New York is leading the way.”

Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said, “Our nation has been brought to a moment of reckoning due to weapons of war that have been too easily accessed by those seeking to kill. These weapons have made places in our communities like schools, grocery stores, houses of worship, and concerts, places of carnage. In these devastating times in New York and across the nation, we have worked with Governor Hochul, Speaker Heastie, and members of the Democratic Legislature to step up and send a message that this path of gun violence is unacceptable and we need real change.”

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said, “My colleagues and I in the Assembly Majority have worked tirelessly for years to address the scourge of gun violence that has plagued this country for far too long. In just 10 days, two horrific shootings took the lives of 31 innocent people in Uvalde, Texas and right here in Buffalo, New York – including children – in places where they should have felt safe. Together with our colleagues in the Senate and Governor Hochul, we have worked to make New York’s gun laws some of the toughest in the country because we believe that every American deserves to feel safe. I am proud of our efforts here in New York, but this country needs to have a serious conversation about its obscene fascination with guns and assault weapons so that every American can live without the fear of gun violence devastating their communities.”

New York Attorney General Letitia James said, “Today, New York is taking swift, comprehensive action to combat the gun violence epidemic that continues to take the lives of innocent Americans each and every day. Across the nation, loopholes, lax laws, and the inaction of public officials allow guns to proliferate in our streets and devastate our communities. With this new package of gun laws, New York will continue to lead in imposing reasonable gun laws that keep our people safe, and I urge other states to follow suit. The time for thoughts and prayers alone has long passed — now is the time for action.”

Signed into law less than one month after the tragic white supremacist act of terror at a Buffalo supermarket, this comprehensive ten-bill package will: ban the sale of semiautomatic rifles to anyone under 21 by requiring a license; prohibit the purchase of body armor by anyone not engaged in an eligible profession; strengthen the Red Flag Law by expanding the list of people who can file for Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs) and requiring law enforcement to file ERPOs under a very specified set of circumstances; make threatening mass harm a crime; require microstamping for new semiautomatic handguns; enhance information sharing between state, local and federal agencies when guns are used in crimes and strengthen requirements for gun dealers related to record-keeping and safeguarding their inventory; close the “other gun” loophole by revising and widening the definition of a firearm; eliminate the grandfathering of large capacity feeding devices; and require social media platforms to provide a mechanism for users to report hateful conduct.

Raising the Age to Purchase Semiautomatic Rifles  

Legislation S.9458/A.10503 requires individuals to obtain a license prior to purchasing a semiautomatic rifle. Under preexisting New York State law, individuals must be 21 years or older to acquire a gun license.  

Banning Body Armor  

Legislation S.9407-B/A.10497 makes it illegal to purchase and sell body vests for anyone who is not engaged in an eligible profession. Eligible professions include law enforcement officers and other professions, which will be designated by the Department of State in consultation with other agencies. It also requires that all body vest sales are completed in-person.  

Strengthening the Red Flag Law 

Legislation S.9113-A/A.10502 expands who may file an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) petition to include health care practitioners who have examined an individual within the last six months.  

It amends the firearm licensing statute to ensure that mental health practitioners’ reports on potentially harmful individuals are considered closely when determining whether to issue a firearm license.  

It also requires police and district attorneys to file ERPO petitions when they have acquired credible information that an individual is likely to engage in conduct that would result in serious harm—either to themselves or others.  

It requires State Police and the Municipal Police Training Council to create and disseminate policies and procedures to identify when an ERPO petition may be warranted.   


Legislation S.4116-A/A.7926-A requires the Division of Criminal Justice Services to certify or decline to certify that microstamping-enabled pistols are technologically viable and if certified as viable, to establish programs and processes for the implementation of such technology; and establishes the crime of the unlawful sale of a non-microstamping-enabled firearm.  

Microstamping is an innovative ammunition-marking technique that marks bullets and cartridge cases with a unique fingerprint each time a firearm is discharged. This allows investigators to link bullets and casings recovered at crime scenes to a specific gun and potentially other crimes. 

Closing Loopholes  

Legislation S.9456/A.10504 expands the definition of a “firearm” to include any weapon not defined in the Penal Law that is designed or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by action of an explosive. This is intended to capture firearms that have been modified to be shot from an arm brace, which are evading our current definitions of firearms and rifles. 

Legislation S.9229-A/A.10428-A eliminates the grandfathering of large capacity ammunition feeding devices that were lawfully possessed prior to the enactment of the Safe Act or manufactured prior to 1994. 

Legislation S.89-B/A.6716-A creates the crimes of making a threat of mass harm and aggravated making a threat of mass harm. 

Enhancing Information Sharing  

Legislation S.4970-A/A.1023-A requires enhanced reporting by law enforcement to the state and federal gun databases. Agencies must report seized or recovered guns to the criminal gun clearinghouse; participate in the ATF’s collective data sharing program; and enter the make, model, caliber, and serial number of the gun into the national crime information center.  

The law also requires gun dealers to enact uniform security and reporting standards. It prohibits those under 18 and not accompanied by a parent from entering certain locations of a gun dealer’s premises and requires training for all employees on conducting firearm, rifle, and shotgun transfers, including identification of and response to illegal purchases. It also requires State Police to conduct inspections of gun dealers every three years.  

Improving Response and Reporting of Hateful and Threatening Social Media Content  

Legislation S.4511-A/A.7865-A requires social media networks in New York to provide a clear and concise policy regarding how they would respond to incidents of hateful conduct on their platform and maintain easily accessible mechanisms for reporting hateful conduct on those platforms 

Legislation S.9465/A.10501 creates a new Task Force on Social Media and Violent Extremism. Housed in the Office of the Attorney General, the Task Force will study and investigate the role of social media companies in promoting and facilitating violent extremism and domestic terrorism online. 

This robust set of new laws, designed to provide immediate enhanced protections and developed and approved in partnership with Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Speaker Carl Heastie, builds on two Executive Orders issued in the immediate wake of the Buffalo shooting.  

The first Executive Order is designed to fight the troubling surge in domestic terrorism and violent extremism frequently inspired by, planned on and posted about on social media platforms and internet forums. The Executive Order calls on the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services to establish a new unit, dedicated solely to the prevention of domestic terrorism, within the Division’s Office of Counter Terrorism. This new unit will focus on threat assessment management, disbursing funding to localities to create and operate their own threat assessment management teams and utilizing social media to intervene in the radicalization process. It will also educate law enforcement members, mental health professionals and school officials on the recent uptick in domestic and homegrown violent extremism and radicalization, as well as create best practices for identifying and intervening in the radicalization process. 

The Executive Order also calls on New York State Police to establish a dedicated unit within the New York State Intelligence Center (NYSIC) to track domestic violent extremism through social media. The unit will develop investigative leads through social media analysis, with a specific focus on identifying possible threats and individuals motivated by radicalization and violent extremism. Finally, the Executive Order calls on every county to perform an exhaustive review of its current strategies, policies and procedures for confronting threats of domestic terrorism. 

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. 

Governor Hochul also issued a referral to the Office of the Attorney General under Executive Law Section 63(8) to investigate and study the social media platforms that were utilized by the Buffalo shooting suspect to broadcast, promote, and facilitate violence, espouse hate, and legitimize replacement theory. Findings from the investigation will be used to enhance and build on New York State’s strategy for combatting hate and violent extremism. 

Division of Criminal Justice Services Commissioner Rossana Rosado said, “The horrific mass shooting in Buffalo changed New York. It tore apart a community and revealed our vulnerability to hate-fueled extremism. As we listen to the voices most impacted and support their healing, we also must act to make sure this never happens again. Through the bills that Governor Hochul is signing into law today, New York is confronting the deadly intersection of hate, extremism, and gun violence. We thank the Governor for her leadership to protect New Yorkers and look forward to working with our state and local partners to implement these laws, building upon our nation-leading gun violence prevention policies and programs.”

New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said, “Recent events demonstrate once again the need to take a legal and policy approach to address the gun violence that plagues our communities and costs lives every day. Prevention is the core of a public health approach. I applaud the Governor for her leadership in signing into law a host of bills that are an example to the nation and will make New Yorkers safer and save lives. This is public health in action.”

State Police Superintendent Kevin P. Bruen said, “Getting illegal guns off our streets remains a top priority and we continue to partner with other local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to share information, strategies, and tactics. We appreciate the commitment and support of the Governor and the Legislature for this work and our shared goal of providing for the safety and security of all New Yorkers.”  

New York State Office of Gun Violence Prevention Director Calliana S. Thomas said“I thank Governor Hochul and our legislative partners for this comprehensive ten-bill package that will strengthen and close critical loopholes in gun laws. We will continue to take a multifaceted approach to building solutions to prevent gun violence statewide – spanning public health, policy, and community-based approaches – and we urge those outside of New York State to act with the same level of urgency in order to address gun violence as the nationwide issue it is.”

Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray said, “Today, New York State under Governor Hochul’s leadership has taken swift and decisive action to strengthen our gun laws and increase the safety and security of our fellow New Yorkers. Keeping New Yorkers safe means making sure we are doing absolutely everything within our power to keep weapons of war out of the wrong hands. Governor Hochul is doing just that.”

Division of Human Rights Commissioner Maria Imperial said, “Hate speech left unchecked can have tragic and deadly consequences. These measures are an important step towards combatting hate-based violence and I applaud Governor Hochulfor her leadership in meeting this crisis head on.”

Office of Victim Services Director Elizabeth Cronin said, “Victim advocates see the devastating effects of gun violence every day, working tirelessly to ensure that individuals and families get the support and services they need to recover and move forward. This work is incredibly important, but we need to do more than just respond to this epidemic. I thank Governor Hochul for taking decisive action to strengthen protections for all New Yorkers.”

State Senator Jamaal Bailey said, “We cannot wait for the next Buffalo or Uvalde to act. With this package of legislation, New York is leading the country in strengthening our gun laws to meaningfully address the scourge of gun violence. My bill will establish a dedicated task force within the New York Attorney General’s Office to investigate social media’s role in promoting violent extremism and the use of social media platforms to plan and facilitate acts of domestic terrorism. Together with my colleagues’ bills to require a permit and raise the age to purchase a semiautomatic rifle, strengthen background checks for gun and ammunition sales, and improve the reporting of hateful social media, this legislative package will save lives and prevent future tragedies. Thank you Governor Kathy Hochul for signing into law the most robust package of bills to tackle gun violence in our state’s history, Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Speaker Carl Heastie, and my colleagues in both houses for your leadership in this moment of crisis.”

State Senator Brad Hoylman said, “We must do everything in our power to prevent gun violence in New York. We honor the memories of the 10 lives lost in Buffalo at the hands of a white supremacist, the 19 children in Texas, and the hundreds of New Yorkers that die from gun violence every year with this package of gun safety bills. I’m honored and humbled to have sponsored two bills being signed by Governor Hochul today, including the new microstamping law (S.4116A/A.7926) and the bill making it easier prosecute cases where a large capacity magazine was used (S.9229A/A.10428A). My sincerest gratitude goes to toGovernor Hochul for championing and expeditiously signing these bills, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins for prioritizing gun safety, and the advocates and anti-gun violence organizations with whom we work closely including, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, Everytown, Moms Demand Action, Brady, Giffords and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.”

State Senator Todd Kaminsky said, “Those who threaten to inflict mass harm on the public must be held accountable. Courts in our state have blocked prosecutions of those who make serious threats against our schools, synagogues and businesses so it was necessary to close this loophole. By signing this legislation, we are empowering law enforcement to prosecute those who make such threats to the fullest extent of the law. Our children’s and our neighbors’ safety demand nothing less. Thank you to Governor Hochul and Assemblymember Wallace for their work on this.”

State Senator Anna M. Kaplan said, “The racist domestic terrorist who murdered 10 innocent Black New Yorkers in a Buffalo supermarket was radicalized online in an environment where hate speech is encouraged and where there are few options for people of good conscience to sound the alarm about what’s going on there. We all know the expression “if you see something, say something,” but unfortunately, many social media platforms make it impossible to speak out when you see something dangerous or harmful online. My legislation will empower social media users to keep virtual spaces safer for all by providing clear and consistent reporting mechanisms to flag hate speech, and with the devastating consequences of hate all around us getting worse by the day, we need to take this action right away. I’m grateful for Governor Hochul’s leadership in signing this legislation along with the entire gun safety package we passed last week, and I’m thankful for my partnership with Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy on this bill.”

State Senator Brian Kavanagh said, “We will never fully rid our country of atrocities like the horrific shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde — or the day-to-day gun violence that plagues so many of our communities — until the gun industry and their allies in Congress and in many states act responsibly and stop blocking laws that would stop the violence. But our actions over the last decade, and the laws Governor Kathy Hochul is signing today, demonstrate that we are willing and able to protect New Yorkers from the scourge of gun violence. I thank Governor Hochul, Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and Speaker Carl Heastie for their leadership, our colleagues in the executive chamber and the legislature, and the many advocates, survivors, law enforcement professionals, and gun violence prevention experts who have helped shape our understanding of what needs to be done.”

State Senator Tim Kennedy said, “While Washington continues to fail to act, New York is stepping up to the plate,” said Senator Tim Kennedy. “One of the City of Buffalo’s darkest days is leading to change, and we are giving voice to those that we lost by effecting real and substantive reforms that will help to prevent future tragedies and save lives. While our work is far from over, I’m proud that the Legislature was able to swiftly come together on this issue, and I thank Governor Hochul for her leadership and for signing these bills into law.”

State Senator Sean Ryan said, “As the Buffalo community continues to mourn, dozens of other communities like ours have lost innocent lives to mass shootings. It has long been clear that our country needs to take bold action to prevent these attacks, confront white supremacy and hateful ideology, and do everything possible to save lives. While we wait for the federal government to act, it is up to individual states to do our part. Here in New York, we looked closely at what happened in Buffalo and Uvalde, Texas to develop commonsense reforms that will make a difference and help prevent tragedies like these from happening in the future.”

State Senator Luis Sepúlveda said, “I am honored Governor Kathy Hochul has signed into law my bill S9456, which changes the definition of firearms to include “Ghost Guns”. Ghost Guns are, unequivocally, a big component of the increasing gun violence that is plaguing our communitiesThis law is a transcendental step in our fight to ensure public safety. Governor Hochulhas chosen the Bronx as the scenario to send a clear message to the entire State and the rest of the Nation: we will not stand idly by without acting for the peace and tranquility of our communities. Today, we are giving hope to millions of people and proving that it is possible to come together to give our communities the tools they need and the protection they deserve to live in peace.”

State Senator James Skoufis said, “Our gun safety package sends a clarion message in the wake of Buffalo, Uvalde, and countless other violent tragedies: New York will do what’s needed to keep our communities safe. The ‘red flag’ expansion bill that I sponsored allows health and mental healthcare professionals to file for extreme risk protection orders to help keep firearms out of the hands of dangerous individuals. I applaud the Governor for signing this and other key measures to protect our families and communities.” 

State Senator Kevin Thomas said,As the federal government sits idly, New York State is once again stepping up and taking action to protect our residents from gun violence. The tragedies in Buffalo and Uvalde have shown there is a correlation between mass shootings and young people having unfettered access to semiautomatic weapons. I am proud to have been the primary sponsor of S.9458, which would effectively raise the age to purchase semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21. New York continues to be a leader in implementing tough common sense gun laws. I thank Governor Hochul for signing this life-saving legislative package into law today to ensure communities across New York remain safe.”

Assemblymember Kenny Burgos said, “Gun violence is a national epidemic and a plague on our communities. And when any innocent life is lost at the barrel of a gun, it is a failure of our government and our humanity. It’s why I am heartened by the tireless work of my legislative colleagues and the Governor in passing the most comprehensive package of gun safety reforms in the country. This includes my own bill which closes a dangerous loophole and expands the definition of firearms to keep up with the disturbingly-innovative minds in the gun industry. New York stepped up at this distressing time in our nation’s history, and I reiterate my call for Congress to do the same.”

Assemblymember Patrick Burke said, “As a father, I know the fear and anxiety parents feel when sending their kids to school. The “have a nice day” hugs are being held just a little bit longer. We need common sense gun reform at the federal level but New Yorkers can rest assured that their Legislature Majority and their Governor will do everything in their power to protect them and their families from gun violence.” 

Assemblymember Kevin Cahill said, “When a person is in crisis, the folks best equipped to identify them and help out are mental health professionals.  By strengthening the Red Flag Law and extending the ability to file Extreme Risk Protection Orders, we will help ensure that those who present an immediate danger to themselves or our communities do not remain in the shadows and can begin to receive the attention and treatment they need.

Assemblymember William Conrad said, “We as Americans can absolutely uphold our Second Amendment rights while at the same time securing critical protections against gun crimes. A recommitment to the Red Flag Law, practical regulations around the possession and use of semiautomatic weapons, comprehensive records-sharing among and for the benefit of law enforcement agencies – these are some of the common-sense measures that will both support responsible gun ownership and provide the enhanced controls demanded by the vast majority of our citizens. The crisis of gun violence, which so grievously touched Buffalo on May 14, will be addressed with a multi-faceted approach that includes more than tightened access to firearms. But I believe the legislation passed this year in New York State represents the appropriate immediate response to such violence. We cannot enjoy the freedom our forefathers intended for us without the assurances of basic safety and security.”

Mark Ziobro
Mark Ziobro
Mark is the current Managing Editor for The Utica Phoenix, and a Central New York Native.

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