Thank you, Superintendent, for welcoming me back to the State Police Intelligence Center. I just attended a meeting of the New York State Gun Consortium at the center, a regular gathering of individuals who come together from all parts of our state, with the federal government involved, the special agent in charge of the FBI and ATF.
We have the U.S. attorney here. We also have local district attorneys. We have state police embedded with our friends and local government, local policing agencies, such as the Sheriff’s as well as many town police departments as well. In light of what happened yesterday in Texas, you get to a point where you feel there are no words left.
But those people deserve our words, so we will muster up the courage to just call out what we just experienced as a nation once again. The outrage, the disgust, the sick feeling in our stomachs as Americans, as New Yorkers and as parents.
But we will never become immune to this or desensitized to it because that is when we start losing the battle. We must harness that outrage and that anger, and that disgust that there could be someone with such wanting evil in their heart that they would acquire an AR-15, go to a school yard after shooting their own grandmother and opening up on innocent children and teachers.
It doesn’t happen in other countries. Rarely. What happens in a nation that seems to revere the rights of gun owners and the ability to possess guns over the right of children to stay alive or to go to a school without fear of having to duck or run, that also has a long-term effect on the psyche of the children.
Not just to those who experience that, but our children all across this nation. Whose parents hugged them a little bit tighter this morning as they packed them off to school with the hope that they will see them at the end of the day. The children of today have been through so much. They don’t deserve that. They’re innocent.
They look to adults to be responsible. They look to us to protect them. And they have the right to be protected by the adults who govern this country. Whether it’s in Congress, whether there has been too long and abdication of responsibility. And if we couldn’t get background checks after Sandy hook, the slaughter of first graders, simply saying, can people have one more requirement before they can walk in and purchase a gun that we finally find out what they’re talking about on social media?
What their neighbors have observed. What record they may have. We can’t even afford that background before someone can acquire these weapons. Cause we’re doing what we can here in the State of New York. We have laws and we’re proud of it.
We can’t even afford that background, before someone can acquire these weapons? Because we are doing what we can here in the State of New York. We have laws that we are proud of, although I’ll be talking about ways we want to enhance them. But as long as the illegal guns are out there somewhere, they find their ways to the streets of New York as well.
That is why we stood up, not just this Interstate Task Force where we share information within our boundaries, this is why I said, “No, these guns are coming from other states. Let’s get them at the table.” And so we have a number of successes, we have more work to do. And I’ll talk about some of our successes. But just this morning, as we’re all dealing with the pain, I’m asking myself as Governor, “Am I supposed to just leave all the flags at half-mast?” They’re still at half-mast from Buffalo.
No, I don’t want to. So we harness this anger. We talked about what we can do. We work with our legislative leaders, how we protect people. Because right now we are 500 feet from a preschool. We’re a thousand feet from Columbia High School. To protect everyone in the state, we convened an emergency meeting this morning of the state.
And I said, “Are we doing everything possible?” And I said, I want state police patrols visiting our schools, doing daily check-ins, every single day from today until the end of the school year. Because I want parents who have enough to worry about in their daily lives, the cost of gas at the pump, the cost of the groceries. Maybe putting aside a little money for college tuition. They have enough to worry about. Let them know that the State Police and their local law enforcement are going to be there to protect them, both uniformed and plain-clothes officers. But let’s talk about getting these weapons off our streets.
I’m proud of the work. Our interstate taskforce has already done to date, as a result of this intentional, aggressive approach. We are now seizing more than 60% more guns per month than we had in the past. That is a good dynamic. Although it would be nice to get to a point where we don’t have the guns to seize. But at least for getting them out of the hands of people who would do harm with them. We have over 513 firearms seized by the state police statewide. If you combine New York City in this, New York City 2000. Across elsewhere in the state, non-state police, 1500. That’s over 4,105 firearms seized just recently. We also took action against the ghost guns, as they’re more properly called “privately made firearms.” And as we finally now have banned them, I was proud to sign a law to make them illegal here in the State of New York, we are now seizing many, many of these guns as well as seized over 348 total statewide. 55 by our state police alone. And the number of those guns, they’re just flowing in from Pennsylvania. And that is why our Interstate Gun Interdiction Taskforce is finding ways to stop them at the borders, finding ways to identify what’s going on at the gun shows, where they’re so readily available out of state.
And we started over 300 gun tracing investigations, forwarding 55 leads to 22 states. That is the cooperation I wanted when I stood this up a few months ago. So we’re going to continue doing that. We also are pushing legislation. I noticed a bill that we need even more help on the information sharing piece.
It sounds dry, but people always say after there’s been a crime, even after 9/11, you got to connect the dots. You have to see who knew what? When did they share it? Why didn’t they share it? Is there a barrier to them sharing it? Well, I don’t have any patience for barriers, my friends I’m impatient. I’m saying break down the barriers, share the information.
And I want a law change that requires all New York State law enforcement agencies to report the recovery of any gun to our State Agency Police Clearinghouse within 24 hours. Enter that into a National Crime Information Center, submit the information to the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network and see if it’s been used in past crimes. That’ll help our efforts.
We also, as I mentioned the other day, we want to build change so we require microstamping on all semi-automatic pistols. What does that do? It creates a fingerprint on the bullets, an incredible tool to help our law enforcement share information when they identify bullets, guns that have been used in other crimes.
And again, the other gun loophole I mentioned would we had any other weapons, the manufacturers and the criminals are very clever to trying to evade our state laws, but I want to make sure that’s done as well. But I have a question to ask: How does an 18-year-old purchase an AR-15 in the State of New York, State of Texas? That person’s not old enough to buy a legal drink.
I want to work with the legislature to change that. I want it to be 21. I think that’s just common sense because as we’ve just seen for the two horrific crimes that we can’t get out of our minds, what happened in Buffalo, what happened in a school, children in Texas? The common denominator, there are three, the weapon was an AR-15. The perpetrator was a male. And the age of the perpetrator was 18. I don’t want 18-year-olds to have guns at least not in the State of New York. So I’m happy to share information about our work. We’re going to continue focusing on this. There are just days left in the session, but I know, and I just had a meeting with the members of the Brooklyn delegation.
There is a strong commitment. Our legislators want to work with me as the Governor of the state to say, we can do more. We will do more. And I will not sleep at night until I know that everything has been done humanly possible to protect New Yorkers and to help them heal from what we went to witnessed in our own state, the slaughter of innocent neighbors, going to the grocery store, buying a birthday cake.
And a lot of little kids who aren’t going to have a birthday.