New York’s governor, Kathy Hochul, has unveiled what she called a “comprehensive plan to combat domestic terrorism and prevent gun violence”, days after a white supremacist allegedly killed 10 Black shoppers and staff at a Buffalo grocery store.
“We as a country are facing an intersection of two crises: the mainstreaming of hate speech – including white nationalism, racism and white supremacy – and the easy access to military-style weapons and magazines,” Hochul said on Wednesday, announcing measures to create new domestic terrorism and intelligence units to track terrorist threats and increase social media monitoring.
Hochul described the attack as “a wake-up call” and said the new measures were designed to address “one of the most pressing threats to public safety across the United States”.
The governor said research showed such attacks and plots had tripled in the last decade. In die laaste jaar alleen, Hochul added, there had been 73 “terrorist attacks and unearthed plots” in the US – 38 of them linked to white supremacists “and similarly like-minded groups”.
The measures include requiring state police to file an “extreme risk protection” order under the state’s “Red Flag Law” when there’s reason to believe a person could seriously harm others or themselves, and closing gun law loopholes that allowed certain types of firearm to be purchased without a permit.
The package of measures came as New York state authorities launched an investigation into social media platforms they believe the accused Buffalo grocery store gunman used to plan, promote and broadcast the attack.
Letitia James, the state attorney general, said she was responding to a letter from Hochul and that her inquiry would focus on Amazon’s video service Twitch as well as the internet chat site Discord, online message boards 4chan and 8chan, and other platforms “the shooter used to amplify his attack”.
“This terror attack again revealed the depths and dangers of these platforms that spread and promote hate without consequence,” James said. “We are doing everything in our power to stop this dangerous behavior now and ensure it never happens again.”
Hochul, blaming social media platforms for a “feeding frenzy” of violent extremist ideology spreading on the internet, said Twitch should have taken down the video of the shooting “within a second”.