Albany County District Attorney David Soares in a lengthy statement released Tuesday sought to rebut New York officials' claims of success with a law meant to keep guns away from people deemed to be a danger to themselves or others.
Soares, a Democrat who has emerged as a vocal critic of recent criminal justice law changes amid a heated debate over public safety this campaign season, called the red flag ineffective against gun violence in the city of Albany amid a rise in shootings this year.
"Red Flag Laws cannot be used to stop the many gangland warriors patrolling the streets with ghost guns, stolen guns, and community guns," he said.
His statement came a day after Gov. Kathy Hochul and state Attorney General Letitia James at a news conference pointed to an increase in extreme risk protection orders since the law was expanded this year and added funding for James' office to enforce the law.
Hochul and state lawmakers expanded the red flag this year after a mass shooting in Buffalo in a predominantly Black neighborhood killed 10 people.
The governor has also touted a sharp rise in the seizure of illegal guns flowing into New York, with thousands more recovered this year.
But Soares urged officials once again to return to Albany and address the rise in crime in upstate cities, saying a conflation between street violence and mass shootings like in Buffalo is inaccurate.
"State leaders must understand the distinction and return to the Capitol to address counter-productive criminal justice reforms if they want to meaningfully address inner city gun violence," he said.
Advocates who support the criminal justice law changes, including the measure that limited when cash bail is required for criminal charges, knocked Soares' statement.
"I think if Davis Soares would stop playing games and use his power to demand real investments in our community, then we could finally see improvements," said Roni Minter, an Albany resident and founder of the Freedom Unshackled coalition. "The data shows there’s been an increase in people making all their court appearances and a decrease in re-arrest rates for violent felony charges since bail reform, but Soares won’t talk about that. We know the safest communities have the greatest resources, not the highest arrest and incarceration rates, and the Capital Region makes that clear. We need real leaders to rise up and for everyone else to be quiet."