Governor Kathy Hochul will provide $6.4 million to New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office to help bolster the state’s red flag laws, the two officials announced during a news conference in Albany on Monday.
The funds will allow James to hire attorneys to support police officers acting upon red flag laws throughout the state. The recently-strengthened regulations have significantly increased the amount of extreme risk protection orders, resulting in a shortage of lawyers to plead officers’ cases for gun seizures.
“We’ve made such a dramatic difference in almost no time at all,” Hochul said. “In each one of these cases, that’s perhaps a crime or act of violence that didn’t occur; something that was prevented. It means our red flag laws are working.”
In the spring, New York strengthened its red flag laws by making it a requirement for law enforcement, medical and mental health providers, and selected education staff to file for an extreme risk protection order for individuals that they believe are a risk to themselves or others.
“The red flag law is an important tool for reducing gun violence,” Steven A. Nigrelli, the acting superintendent of New York State Police. “It allows us to take immediate action when someone threatens others or themselves.”
Out of all final protection order cases applied for, 65% have resulted in guns being seized, and judges approve 86% of applications – “but not all,” Nigrelli said, noting that some officers have had to represent themselves in court. The new legal representation will help officers “succeed in our ultimate goal of keeping New York safe,” he added.
Since passing the new red flag laws, the state has seen a 165% increase in the total number of temporary and final extreme risk orders issued, James noted. About 2,000 have been ordered since May, with an average of 400 issued per month compared to about 45 per month before the laws were passed.
“That means guns are being taken out of the hands of dangerous individuals,” James said at the news conference. “That means a potential life is being saved every single time.”
Hochul added that the state has partnered with Everytown for Gun Safety to hold training sessions for professionals on the red flag laws and how to file the orders necessary to seize guns from potentially dangerous individuals.