New York has issued hundreds more orders of protection meant to keep guns away from those deemed a danger to themselves or others following the expansion of the state's red flag law earlier this year, Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday said.
"This is really a fight across our nation," Hochul said at a Capitol news conference with state Attorney General Letitia James. "It's been my priority. It's not a new development. It's something we've focused on with great intensity."
James pointed to the 339 orders issued in recent months as a sign the stricter gun laws following a mass shooting in western New York and a Supreme Court ruling overturning a conceal carry law. A majority of those orders, 65%, have resulted in guns being seized, she said.
"It means a life is potentially be saved every single time," James said.
At the same time, her office is receiving millions of dollars to expand the hiring of attorneys to handle the influx of risk protection order requests.
"We know that these laws can work and can save lives," James said. "Prayers alone won't save lives from gun violence. We are taking basic, common-sense steps to protect our residents."
The announcement came nearly two weeks before Election Day on Nov. 8 and amid a heated debate during the gubernatorial campaign over public safety and how best to tackle the rise in crime.
Hochul's Republican opponent, Rep. Lee Zeldin, has pledged to repeal recent criminal justice law changes that ended cash bail requirements and raise the age of criminal responsibility to 18.
Zeldin has linked the changes to the rise in crime, but Democrats and supporters of the laws have noted the increase also coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting societal disruptions.
James' opponent, Republican Michael Henry, has also called for tougher measures to address crime.
Polls have shown the gubernatorial race tightening in recent weeks and Hochul has increasingly talked about crime at public settings as surveys have shown the issue being a constitently top concern for voters.
Hochul last week pledged to continue to expand the ranks of the State Police and over the weekend pointed to efforts to increase safety on mass transit. The rhetoric has coincided with the release of am ad from Hochul's campaign highlighting her efforts on the issue.
On Monday, Hochul pointed to her efforts to make changes to the law ending cash bail requirements for many criminal charges, expanding it to include gun-related crimes earlier this year.
At the same time, Hochul has pointed to efforts to further regulate guns in New York in the wake of a mass shooting in Buffalo earlier this year and after U.S. Supreme Court ruling found the state's century-old concealed carry law was unconstitutional.
Democrats who control the state Legislature and Hochul agreed to measures this summer that raised the age to possess a semiautomatic weapon from 18 to 21, expanding the red flag law, while also tightening concealed carry requirements and limiting where guns can be carried.
The red flag law is meant to keep guns away from people deemed to be a danger to themselves or others through an order of protection.
Hochul on Monday announced more than 2,000 orders of protection under the red flag since the spring have been issued, doubling the number from a year ago.
"We've made a dramatic difference in almost no time at all," Hochul said.
Hochul denied the focus on guns and public safety on Monday was related to her election campaign as she seeks a full term, pointing to months-long efforts to curtail the flow of illegal guns into New York.