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Hochul wrongly says Buffalo killer used a bump stock

ALBANY — Around an hour after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a ban on bump stocks, Gov. Kathy Hochul wrongly said a gunman who carried out a racist massacre in her hometown of Buffalo had used the gun accessory that can allow semiautomatic rifles to shoot as fast as a machine gun.

Hochul, a Democrat, made the error first in a statement emailed to media and posted on a state website Friday, then later in post on X that has since been deleted.

She incorrectly said that the white supremacist who killed 10 Black people at a supermarket in Buffalo in 2022 used a bump stock. In the shooting, the gunman modified a legally purchased semiautomatic rifle so he could use illegal high-capacity ammunition magazines, but he did not use a bump stock to make the weapon fire at a faster rate.

“Exactly one month ago, we marked the anniversary of the deadly Buffalo massacre — the horrific day when a hate-fueled gunman murdered ten of our neighbors, using a bump stock to transform his firearm into an even deadlier weapon,” Hochul’s emailed statement read. She added that the Supreme Court decision was “a sad day for the families who have lost loved ones in mass shootings.”

Her now-deleted post on X said “a man using a bump stock killed 10 of our neighbors in Buffalo.”

Asked by The Associated Press about the error, a spokesperson for the governor, Maggie Halley, emailed a statement saying Hochul “was intending to generally call out dangerous, illegal modifications of weapons that have no civilian purpose and are intended to inflict mass casualties, such as bump stocks and modifications of a magazine.”

The Supreme Court struck down a federal ban on bump stocks put in place after the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history, when a man in Las Vegas attacked a music festival with rifles equipped with bump stocks, firing more than 1,000 rounds into the crowd in 11 minutes. Fifty-eight people were killed and more than 800 were injured in the 2017 shooting.

The high court, in a 6-3 vote, said the Justice Department was wrong to conclude that bump stocks transformed semiautomatic rifles into illegal machine guns. The devices use a firearm’s recoil energy to bump the trigger against the shooter’s finger rapidly, mimicking automatic fire.

After the mass shooting in Buffalo, Hochul and New York lawmakers approved a slate of new laws around firearms, including policies to ban the sale of semiautomatic rifles to people under the age of 21 and restrict the sale of bulletproof vests.

In her statement about the Supreme Court decision, Hochul said state leaders were “doing everything we can to end the scourge of gun violence.”

“We’ve expanded our Red Flag Laws and banned teens from purchasing AR-15 rifles, and will continue to enforce the 2020 law banning bump stocks in New York. Public safety is my top priority — and I’m committed to doing everything in my power to keep New Yorkers safe,” she said.

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