Last year, state lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul agreed to expand New York’s law seizing guns of people deemed to be a danger to themselves or others.
Since then, the number of cases for emergency risk protection orders have increased so sharply that it has overwhelmed investigators at the State Police.
"No one wants to drop the ball on these, because no one wants to be responsible for the next tragedy," said Timothy Dymond, the president of the New York State Police Investigators Association. "Our message is, ok, if that’s what we’re going to do, we need the resources to do it."
Known as the Red Flag Law, the expansion last year increased who can report a potential case in which firearms could be seized. The process is a time consuming one for State Police investigators, who must also make a court appearance.
The $229 billion budget approved in May included more money for an additional State Police class as well as funding for technology upgrades. But attrition has depleted the ranks of law enforcement overall in recent years.
"What we need are people now. We need investigators now to help with this workload so the other cases don’t suffer," Dymond said.
Lawmakers amended the law last year in the wake of a racially motivated shooting in Buffalo. Democratic state Assemblywoman Pat Fahy said the number of risk protection cases increasing is a sign that it’s working.
"At this point I think it’s been one of the most effective laws we have passed in terms of gun violence prevention," Fahy said.
And local police departments have a role to play as well, including coordinating with law enforcement at the county and state levels, she said.
"I’m absolutely open to providing more resources, but we have to make sure local, county and state law enforcement are working together and are coordinating," Fahy said.
But Republicans, including state Sen. Dan Stec, have been more skeptical.
"Everyone wants to do more, but then they don’t put the resources behind it," Stec said.
The State Police Investigators Association worries the paperwork could take law enforcement away from other crimes – a concern echoed by Stec.
"They don’t have more resources, that means they’re not patrolling the streets, they’re not catching bad guys, they’re not locking up the people who are hurting us," Stec said. "They’re pushing paperwork and seizing firearms."