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Hochul touts ‘historic’ gun seizures, police funding

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(The Center Square) — Gov. Kathy Hochul is touting new police data showing a record number of gun seizures in New York as she pumps more money into law enforcement efforts to get illegal firearms off the streets.

State law enforcement increased illegal gun seizures by 53% from 2018 to 2022, Hochul said Thursday, with more than 10,500 weapons confiscated last year, many of them as part of a multistate effort to stop an influx of illegal weapons transported along the Interstate 95 corridor.

“The incidences of gun violence are going down, and a lot of that has to do with the confiscation of illegal guns,” Hochul said in remarks Tuesday during an event at New York State Police Academy.

Hochul also touted increased funding for law enforcement agencies, with $36.2 million earmarked for the state’s Gun Involved Violence Elimination initiative in the recently signed $229 billion state budget for the current fiscal year.

The funding will support 28 police departments, district attorneys’ offices, probation departments, and sheriffs’ offices in 21 counties outside of New York City hardest hit by gun violence and violent crime, the governor said.

Hochul pointed to data from communities receiving the funding showing that shooting incidents with injuries declined 28% from January to May, while the number of individuals shot decreased 27%, compared to the same five-month period last year.

She argued the state’s efforts to crack down on illegal guns are already having a measurable impact in driving down violent crime, citing recent data showing that murders and shootings are down statewide.

New York State Police Superintendent Steven Nigrelli said the additional funding is “crucial” to “stop the infiltration of illegal guns into our state and communities and the violent crimes that are perpetuated with them.” He cited last week’s shooting of New York State Trooper Richard Albert during a traffic stop.

Police union officials have complained they lack resources to deal with illegal gun seizures and an uptick in orders to seize firearms under the state’s ‘red flag’ law, which authorizes authorities to temporarily take guns belonging to people believed to pose a danger to themselves or others.

Last year, the state Legislature approved a plan expanding the list of individuals who can request Extreme Risk Protection Orders under the law, which has resulted in a more than 600% increase in requests, authorities say.

The National Rifle Association and other gun rights groups have criticized the state’s red flag law, arguing it lacks due process for seizing legal firearms.

Meanwhile, Republicans have criticized Hochul’s response to a surge in violent crime in the state and blasted Democratic legislative leaders for passing “pro-criminal” bills during the recent legislative session.

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