Today, Assemblymember Monica Wallace (D-Lancaster) announced the allocation of $10 million in the State Budget to help law enforcement agencies process and enforce extreme risk protection orders (ERPO), to be administered with the assistance of Attorney General Letitia James. The funding will help municipalities and police agencies prevent individuals who are found to be a risk to themselves or others from accessing firearms.
ERPOs, more commonly known as “red flag” laws, allow law enforcement, family members, school staff, and others to petition in state court for an order to temporarily remove dangerous firearms from individuals who have been found to pose a danger to themselves or others. Throughout the budget negotiations, Assemblymember Wallace and her colleagues, Assemblymembers Karen McMahon (D-Amherst) and Jo Anne Simon (D-Brooklyn), worked with Attorney General James to advocate for the funding to help keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals.
In total, the 2024 State Budget includes nearly $350 million in gun violence prevention initiatives, including $36.4 million for the Gun Involved Violence Elimination (GIVE) initiative and $25 million for the SNUG Street Outreach Program. Officials in Western New York have said the programs helped fuel a 32% decrease in shootings in the City of Buffalo last year.
The investment from the 2024 State Budget builds on other recent efforts to combat gun violence through ERPOs. In October 2022, Governor Hochul and Attorney General James announced that ERPOs had dramatically increased following an executive order to expand their usage. Additionally, $4.6 million was added to the Attorney General’s budget to enable the creation of a special unit within the Office of the Attorney General to further support the New York State Police's efforts to secure ERPOs and protect New Yorkers from gun violence.
“The hateful Tops massacre in Buffalo was a stark reminder that simply having red flag laws on the books is not enough,” said Assemblymember Monica Wallace. “We need to give law enforcement the tools they need to prevent a tragedy before it occurs. Extreme risk protection orders do that, but the process to obtain those orders can be challenging for law enforcement and smaller municipalities. This funding will help offset any costs to municipalities while allowing them to protect their residents from foreseeable gun violence. I thank Attorney General James, Speaker Heastie, and my colleagues, Assemblymembers McMahon and Simon, for helping to advocate for this funding to prevent the next mass shooting and save lives.”
"Keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals is a commonsense way to protect New Yorkers' safety and lives,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James. “Providing additional resources for local municipalities to investigate and enforce extreme risk protection orders will further our shared efforts to prevent tragedies. I thank Assemblymembers Wallace, McMahon, and Simon for their advocacy and commitment, and Speaker Heastie for his leadership in this effort to secure these vital funds in the State Budget. I will continue my work to protect New Yorkers from gun violence through these extreme risk protection orders, takedowns of firearm and ammunition sellers, lawsuits to stop gun and accessory manufacturers from flooding our streets with dangerous weapons, and gun buyback events. New Yorkers deserve to live free from the fear of gun violence, and that is a goal that everyone in public service must work together to achieve.”
"ERPOs are an important tool in keeping firearms out of the hands of dangerous individuals,” said Assemblymember Karen McMahon. “I'm proud to have advocated for this $10 million allocation in the 2023-24 State Budget, which will make the enforcement of red flag laws more robust in New York State. Too often, those who commit crimes with a gun are individuals who never should have had access to a gun in the first place because they exhibited behavior demonstrating that they were a risk to themselves or others. Committing funding to enhance the enforcement of these laws will undoubtedly save lives."
In the wake of the racist attack in Buffalo last May, New York State lawmakers passed a package of bills to expand usage of ERPOs, ban body armor, and close a loophole that excluded pre-existing high-capacity ammunition feeding devices from a ban in the 2013 SAFE Act. Included in that package was a bill that allows healthcare and mental health practitioners to file ERPOs and require police and district attorneys to file ERPO petitions upon receiving credible information that an individual is likely to harm themselves or others and has access to firearms.
Additionally, Assemblymember Wallace passed a resolution calling on Congress to reinstate the Federal Assault Weapons Ban of 1994. Assemblymember Wallace also sponsored and passed legislation to create the crime of making a threat of mass harm in response to a wave of threats that retraumatized the Western New York community in the weeks after the May 14 attack.