August 24, 2022
Albany, NY

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul Announces More Than 6,000 Illegal Gun Seizures as a Result of Interstate Gun Task Force Since January

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul Announces More Than 6,000 Illegal Gun Seizures as a Result of Interstate Gun Task Force Since January

Intrastate and Interstate Cooperation among Local, State and Federal Agencies Producing Results

Total Seizures Across New York State Increased 20 Percent from January Through July 2022 When Compared to First Seven Months of Last Year

Individuals Injured by Gunfire Decreased 12 Percent in Communities Participating in State-Funded Gun Involved Violence Elimination Initiative and 11 Percent in New York City

140 Percent Increase in New York State Police Gun Seizures Between August 2021 to July 2022 Compared to August 2020 to July 2021

Governor Hochul: "We are now working across borders, getting guns out off the streets and keeping people safe because my philosophy is: I'd rather be in the crime prevention business than the crime solving business. And that's what this is all about. So, we connect the dots while they're still out there before something tragic happens."

Hochul: "One year ago today, I said that my number one responsibility was to protect the health and safety of all New Yorkers, and that is what I'm going to continue focusing on. We've seen too many lives destroyed by the ravages of gun violence inflicting trauma in too many communities from here and all across upstate. But given the scale of this crisis, we can only confront it in an effective way by working with partners who share our goals. "

Earlier today, Governor Kathy Hochul announced that police agencies have removed 6,007 illegal guns from communities across New York State during the first seven months of the year, a 20 percent increase when compared to the same timeframe in 2021. Joined by New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Steven Dettelbach prior to a meeting of the Interstate Task Force on Illegal Guns, Governor Hochul updated New Yorkers about her administration's comprehensive efforts to stem the flow of illegal guns, reduce gun violence and save lives. ATF Director Dettelbach touted the Task Force as a national model for other regions in the country to follow.

VIDEO of the event is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here.

AUDIO of the event is available here.

PHOTOS of the event are available on the Governor's Flickr page.

A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:

Good morning, everyone. Thank you for joining us. I'm joined here today at this High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Office. And why do I want to come here? These offices were established under the anti-drug legislation of 1988, and guess what young staffer working for Senator Moynihan helped write those laws? So, this is a full circle for me. I was very involved in the anti-drug legislation, and worked with Senator Moynihan and I made sure a large part of the funding came to our state. So, I'm always proud of that.

We are absolutely delighted to be joined here by the newly, official - the first Senate-confirmed Director of ATF in about seven years. Quite an accomplishment for our friend Steven Dettelbach, and I'll be introducing him momentarily, but also always having a partner in how we deal with crime, getting guns off the streets, making our community safe - it doesn't happen with strong partnerships. And I'll be introducing Mayor Adams to speak about what we're doing collaboratively very shortly.

I also want to give a special shout out to Kevin Bruen, the Superintendent of State Police, who has been at my side for exactly one year now in terms of making sure that we pull together all the resources available, leave no stone unturned in our quest to make sure that we get illegal guns off the streets.

John DeVito, Special Agent of ATF in New York, I want to thank you for what you do statewide. We participated on a call yesterday, and you've been great helping us with other areas like Rochester. We convened for the third time - second time in three weeks, a gathering of everybody from federal, state, local to talk about how we can reduce crime. And indeed, our numbers are showing a decrease literally in the last three weeks since we started rethinking our relationships there. Also, Commissioner Rossana Rosado, the Commissioner of the Department of Criminal Justice Services, I want to thank her for being here as well.

We're here to talk about an unprecedented nation leading response in work on our Interstate Gun Task Force. We put this together and the reason we are doing this is because one year ago today, I said that my number one responsibility was to protect the health and safety of all New Yorkers, and that is what I'm going to continue focusing on. We've seen too many lives destroyed by the ravages of gun violence inflicting trauma in too many communities from here and all across upstate. But given the scale of this crisis, we can only confront it in an effective way by working with partners who share our goals.

As I mentioned, law enforcement, state, local, federal government, and that's why last January, and realizing that more could be done, I launched the Interstate Task Force on Illegal Guns. First of its kind. We met in Albany and we talked about how we can pull together data sharing in other states. Now what has happened in the past? States conduct our investigations, the data stops at the state line. It was not shared with neighbors and this pipeline, some call it the iron pipeline of bringing illegal guns in, was being successful because we didn't share data. So, I convened representatives for nine states - Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Hampshire, as well as New York, Quebec, NYPD, Boston PD, ATF, and FBI and of course, the State Police. So since January, when we started this and no other part of our country is doing this collaboration. We are now working across borders, getting guns out off the streets and keeping people safe because my philosophy is: I'd rather be in the crime prevention business than the crime solving business. And that's what this is all about. So, we connect the dots while they're still out there before something tragic happens. And that's why I'm so pleased to have the full support of the federal government in our efforts.

I spoke to the new ATF Director, Steve Dettelbach, back when he first assumed his position. He brought his knowledge already of what we are doing here and talked about how he wants to use this as a blueprint to show other states how to combat gun violence. So, over seven months now in our response to dealing with the epidemic of illegal guns flowing across our states, we already have become that national model. And our gun seizures are up - I'm really proud of this - across all New York law enforcement agencies up 20 percent through July of this year. And New York State Police, when I first became Governor and I know a little bit about law enforcement, I said, what else can we be doing? Because the guns are coming across borders like Pennsylvania, whether it's gun shows where weapons are being sold, people trafficking are loading up their trunk, filling them with illegal guns or guns legally purchased in Pennsylvania, bringing them to New York, where they are illegal or high capacity magazines. And literally these are showing up on the streets of Brooklyn, the Bronx Manhattan, as well as Upstate New York - Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo. So, we have been focused on shifting our priorities.

I said, just get on the border, start sharing information, work with the locals, start doing something differently because this is not sustainable. We have to stop this. So, State Police have seized from August 2021 to July 2022, 14 almost 1,500 guns. That's compared to 600 guns in the same time period. 1,500 guns versus 600, that's a 140 percent increase. That's the highest number of guns seized in our state's history. And to put it in context, that's five times more guns seized in this last year than they did back in 2001. And more than we did in 2010.

So, we're focused. You know, the numbers are important, but also what are we doing on ghost guns? Last October, we banned them in the State of New York. I signed that into law and the Director will talk about what they're doing at the federal level as well. We have seized more ghost guns up through July than we did all of last year. 76 already seized. And we had a big takedown in the North Country just days ago. So, it's not just focusing on the trafficking, bringing the illegal guns in here - and we know that all these guns are crossing state lines because they're not made here. So, there's automatically, in my opinion, a strong federal nexus that says you've crossed state lines with these weapons, therefore the work that's being done here and across our state with federal partners is critically important. You take these cases to U.S. attorneys, and you have federal laws to back you up and now we've made a real difference.

We're also focusing on the guns that are already here. Mayor Adams and I stood together last January, literally weeks after he was sworn in as mayor, pledging to work together. And again, that made headlines itself: Mayor of New York working with the Governor of New York. We have stood side by side this entire time, committed in our united purpose to make sure that we stopped the increase in gun violence. So, through NYPD's gun violence strategic partnership, we've seen tremendous progress. I want to thank the Mayor for that, and I want to thank the Police Commissioner. We're honored to be literally in the trenches with you, and it's part of a larger good news story as well because gun seizures are up. Gun seizures are up and gun crimes are down. This is the first notable decrease in gun violence since we really had a spike in 2020. I mean, sociologists will study for years to come exactly what happened during this pandemic that drove the increase in crime all across the nation. That's an important point to make - all across America gun cases escalated, shootings occurred, crime was up overall. And our report from Criminal Justice Services shows that through July of this year, shootings in the State of New York shootings overall are down 11 percent and shooting victims are down 12 percent compared to the same period last year.

I tell you those numbers, not in the context that this is satisfactory, but I'm sure glad it's down 10 percent down, 11 percent, as opposed to up 10 percent or up 11 percent. That trajectory is important to note, the trend is going downward, but we will not rest until we get it down to where we had been, where people really did generally feel safe and were safe.

So, our Task Force efforts are just one part of our multifaceted fight to end gun violence. And again, I do applaud all the other states and their governors who have sent their people to our meeting. There's a meeting going on at 10 o'clock this morning. We've met in Albany. This is a concerted effort that's going to continue because we now have success, but we're not resting on our laurels. And it's not enough just to have the strongest gun laws in our nation, which we are proud to have. We have to double down on the solutions that make a difference. Our budget, you know, many of these areas were underfunded. You want to get the job done? You have to put resources on the table. We put in a historic $227 million in investing in gun violence prevention programs, law enforcement support, exclamation point, supporting law enforcement. We have centers to collect crime and data. Investigative work as well as information development. And that again, that helps them effectively solve, reduce, and eventually prevent gun crimes.

And also, criminals will continue to be clever. Always have been. They try to evade our laws and we have to continue to strengthen them. You think about, you know, the day to day street crimes, laser focused on this, but then we had to deal with the aftermath of a horrific massacre that occurred in my hometown in Buffalo on May 14. And there, an 18-year-old was able to legally purchase an AR-15 under the then New York State laws, cross over into Pennsylvania, purchase legally in Pennsylvania a high capacity magazine, and that's how he slaughtered my neighbors. It was devastating for that community. We've been back many, many times to help deal with the emotional scars and the trauma of what that has done to a community that, you know, didn't deserve that. And we're there for them.

I immediately called on the legislature and said, okay, they had already left for the session. We have to get these weapons of war off the streets. So as a result, working with the legislature, nation-leading package on making sure we do have the toughest gun laws, and I'll just go over a few of them because I want everyone to know that the law of the land here in the State of New York is a threat of a mass harm crime, making a threat of making a mass harm is now a crime. So, you threaten this, that is a crime. So again, connecting the dots, stopping it before something tragic happens, that is how we're approaching these investigations. Banning the sale of AR-15s for those under 21. It was insanity that you could be purchasing them, I don't think you should be able to purchase them at all, but we have court cases that say otherwise. But we now say that people under the age of 21, a teenager, becomes radicalized through social media platforms, as has happened in the case in Buffalo. There's evidence of that. They can no longer get their hands on one legally - banning the large capacity magazines, banning the sale of body armor. Think about this. The shooter in Buffalo could have been stopped by the onsite - security guard - except that this person had body armor that would be normally issued to people on a battlefield across the world. And that's not how we're doing it in New York anymore.

We also talked about, I mentioned, social media, a number of times. I've called upon and working closely with our Attorney General to identify what's going on in social media. Those questions are now part of our background checks, just like in the old days you talk to someone's neighbor. Now you can talk to their neighbors online and find out whether or not this person has been spouting philosophies that indicate that they have been radicalized. And that's how we protect our citizens as well. We're also requiring permits for semi-automatic rifles. We're having background checks for buying ammunition. We're having an ammunition database and requiring enhanced reporting by all law enforcement agencies. And that's part of ATF's collective data sharing program. Again, it's strange to think that the ATF is doing their work. They have a database, but there are not requirements that localities or states provide the ATF with what they're finding. So again, another void of information sharing that was crippling the ability to make decisions based on data and target the people who are the shooters, the trigger-pullers, as well as leading them to the major traffickers. So, you'll be hearing about that, but also in my budget. We literally tripled our funding for the 10 crime analysis centers across the state. And we're continuing to do that work.

Lastly, I'll talk about what we did with our red flag laws. We're very proud, that immediately after the Buffalo shooting, I directed, and this was not permissive, this was a directive to the State Police, that when they become aware of an individual who could do harm to themselves or others, we have a right to find out if they have access to weapons, and if so, take them. Appear before a judge, make your case, but in so doing, you may be preventing the next mass shooting or further shootings on the streets. So, we've had the number of protection orders along these lines. We just did an event out in Suffolk County, which is number one in the state in terms of issuing these, our orders of protection increased over 74 percent in this short time, 188 protection orders issued, and that means 188 people may have been thwarted from doing harm to others. And that's how we've kept hundreds and hundreds of guns out of the hands of others. So again, following the Supreme Court decision, which was not welcome in our state, the decision at the end of June, in addition to undoing the rights of all women in this country. They also took away the right of a Governor to protect her citizens from people carrying concealed carry weapons. And we got together quickly, we made changes, that law had been in place for over a century. So now, we are working through this extraordinary session.

We now have - August 31st, you'll see me doing another event, I'll be talking about exactly what we've been working on almost daily, putting together all the regulations that talk about what are the sensitive locations where we are going to restrict concealed weapons? We're in conversation with the Mayor on this to talk about our concern about the City of New York and our subways and our places of worship and schools and countless places, where common sense says someone should not be able to carry a weapon concealed because you don't know what they're going to do with it. So, we're taking it back within the confines of the new Supreme Court decision and all that information we released in time for the September one effective date.

And as I mentioned, we're going to enhance, have background checks for ammunition, safe storage requirements. So, we're doing a lot, stay tuned. Stay tuned. We're continuing to focus on this, first thing I think about in the morning and last thing at night, is how we can continue to keep New Yorkers safe. So, we're not going backwards, despite all the obstacles that are thrown our way, we're persevering, because the cause is just, protecting citizens and giving that security that every parent deserves or every person who comes to our cities or our other areas around the state, they deserve to feel. And I, as the Governor, working with the Mayor working with our federal partners in Washington, are also duly committed to sharing information, sharing resources, sharing talent, and that is how we're going to make a real difference. So, we're not just going to talk about doing something, we're actually doing something. More needs to be done without a doubt. I'm just giving people a snapshot and the progress we're seeing thus far, but, we will not rest until we've done everything in our power to end the scourge of gun violence in our streets. So with that, I'd like you to hear from the ATF Director, Steven Dettelbach, who again, brand new on the job, but he comes with a depth of experience, having been a United States Attorney in almost neighboring Ohio, Cleveland area. And I'm familiar with his work, because at the same time he was US Attorney under President Barack Obama, my husband was US Attorney in the Western district, so they worked closely together. So I'm, I'm well aware of your friendship with our family, but also the incredible work you're doing at a significant level in our federal government. So ladies and gentlemen, ATF Director Steven Dettelbach.

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