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NY Gov. Hochul Declares Domestic Terrorism the ‘Most Significant Threat,’ Unveils Legislative Package

Published: May 18, 2022
New York Governor Kathy Hochul speaks to guests during an event with US President Joe Biden and several family members of victims of the Tops market shooting at the Delavan Grider Community Center on May 17, 2022 in Buffalo, New York.Hochul has declared domestic terrorism the most significant threat the state, and the nation, faces. (Image: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

On May 18, New York Governor, Kathy Hochul, in the shadow of the recent mass shooting in Buffallo, declared that domestic terrorism is “the most significant threat” New York state, and the nation faces, and unveiled a legislative package that she says will allow the state to fight back with a “statewide approach.”

“Domestic terrorism is the most significant threat we face as a state and as a nation so we’re fighting back with a statewide approach,” Hochul told a room full of reporters at a press conference in Manhattan.

The legislative package, which includes executive orders, is intended to prevent future tragedies like the one that unfolded in Buffalo this past weekend. It aims to tighten gun laws, increase social media monitoring by law enforcement and directs state police to be more aggressive in seizing firearms from potential shooters under the state’s red flag law.

“The public will never know the mass shooting we prevent, but I’ll know,” Hochul said. 

The man responsible for the massacre, Payton Gendron, is an alleged white supremacist and had previously undergone a medical evaluation following threatening comments he had made at his former high school. However, at the time, no action was taken to prevent him from purchasing weapons under the state’s red flag law nor did authorities attempt to seize any firearms already in his possession. 

Currently, State Police have the authority to file an “Extreme Risk Protection Order” granting them the power to seize weapons and prevent gun purchases by individuals they deem a threat to themselves or others whenever they have probable cause.

Part of the legislative package is an executive order targeting online extremism. The executive order directs State Police to dedicate a unit to monitoring social media and other online messaging platforms for any potential threat by extremists. The state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services has also been directed to create a new unit focused on combating domestic terrorism. 

In addition, Hochul is directing state Attorney General, Letitia James, to determine how Gendron utilized social media to spread the idea of “replacement theory,” a theory that claims there is a concerted effort by progressives to replace white Americans with non-white immigrants. 

In a press release James said, “Time and time again, we have seen the real-world devastation that is borne of these dangerous and hateful platforms, and we are doing everything in our power to shine a spotlight on this alarming behavior and take action to ensure it never happens again.”

Hochul is also pushing for state lawmakers to pass several new pieces of legislation to combat the threat including controversial new gun laws. 

One proposed bill would require that semi-automatic handguns, manufactured or sold in New York state, include a feature that would mark ammunition with a microstamp when fired, which would assist law enforcement in its investigations of gun crimes.

Micro-stamping is a controversial and proprietary technology. California is the only state that currently mandates micro-stamping, with an exemption for law enforcement.

New York state attempted to introduce micro-stamping in 2010 through Bill A6468, however it did not pass the state Senate. Gun manufacturers argue that the technology is flawed and extremely cost prohibitive.

Another proposed law would direct law enforcement to report within 24 hours any firearm they recover from a crime scene. In addition, the bill seeks to expand the definition of firearms to include other types of guns.