NEW YORK (PIX11) — The issue of what to do about gun violence took center stage a little less than a month ahead of the New York Democratic primary for governor.
Current Gov. Kathy Hochul, well ahead in most polling, unveiled a suite of executive orders and legislation at her midtown office. Meanwhile, Congressman Tom Suozzi hammered Hochul for previous comments on gun control, and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams continued to push a holistic approach to gun violence he has championed for several years.
Hochul is asking New York Attorney General Tish James to investigate the role social media companies may have played in amplifying the actions and hate speech of accused Buffalo shooter Payton Gendron.
She also is creating a unit in the Office of Counterterrorism focusing exclusively on domestic terrorism. Hochul will also be strengthening the state’s Red Flag laws by requiring state police to file a claim restricting weapon use by people they encounter who are a threat to themselves and others.
“That’s the intersection of two crises under folding right now in our country: the mainstreaming of hate speech of racism, and the easy access of military-style weapons and magazines,” Hochul said.
Finally, Hochul is advocating for a package of new state gun control legislation including the banning of “gray-area” guns, which are assault-style weapons built to get around local laws.
“It’s really the height of hypocrisy,” Suozzi said of Hochul’s policy announcements.
He showed press on a Zoom call old clips of Hochul talking about her pro-gun credentials while running for Congress in Buffalo a decade ago. Suozzi also highlighted Hochul voting to loosen concealed carry laws while in Congress.
Finally, Suozzi accused Hochul of failing to adequately educate local authorities as governor on the state’s Red Flag law. Gendron was still allowed to legally buy his weapon in New York despite last year threatening a school shooting, which trigged a state police response.
“We don’t need more speeches,” He said “We need the state run properly.”
Hochul bristled at Suozzi’s accusations as playing politics. “I went all over the state championing the Red Flag law, with all these advocates, on a bus,” Hochul said. “I have made this my calling, and I will continue to make sure New York State leads on this.”
Separately, in the Bronx, Williams was grieving with families of the everyday gun violence that’s plagued New York City of late.
“I am raising my 13-year-old by marriage and my newborn and they need to be safe in the streets,” Williams said. “Let’s lead the nation in coordinated resources and efforts to these communities. Our police have unlimited access to overtime, but our Department of Health and Mental Hygiene does not.”
Of course, on the opposite side of the gun control debate in the Republican primary for governor, there is a decidedly different debate playing out. Most of the dialogue revolves around the topic of bail reform and supporting police.