Planet Princeton

Three more states join gun safety coalition

Massachusetts, Delaware and Puerto Rico have decided to join a “state for gun safety” coalition that also includes New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

The multi-state partnership was launched this month to combat gun violence. With the addition of these new members, the coalition of states now represents more than 35 million Americans. The governors today pledged to take action to stop gun-related violence.

A task force will attempt to trace and intercept illegal guns in the region, and new members have pledged to work in cooperation with other partner states to enhance intelligence gathering, information sharing, and response efforts related to gun violence.

“Together, we can take steps and enact measures to protect our residents and our communities. A collective of states can broaden the reach and impact of gun safety laws even if Congress or the President do not take action,” New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said.

“It’s time for the horrifying mass shootings that have plagued this country for far too long to spur real action and real policy changes,” New York Gov. Andrew Governor Cuomo said. “Our states collectively already have better gun safety laws than the federal government, and by working together to share information and bolster enforcement, we will keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals and better protect our communities. If the federal government refuses to act, we will work together to enact the important reforms families deserve, and I welcome these new states to our coalition.”

Governor Malloy said the massacres in Parkland, Las Vegas, Orlando, San Bernardino, Umpqua, Aurora, and Sandy Hook are a tragic reminder of the urgent need to tear down political barriers and work together to make communities, schools, and public places safer.

“I am hopeful that this represents the beginning of a turning point and that more states will join our growing partnership,” Malloy said. “That said, while we can make a significant difference, we need real and substantive action from Congress if we are serious about ending this epidemic of gun violence.  It shouldn’t need saying, but the lives of children are far more important than any powerful special interest.  It’s time to act.”

Massachusetts, Delaware and Puerto Rico will share information with the other partner states about individuals who are prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm within each state, enabling  law enforcement agencies to know whether an individual has attempted to purchase or permit a weapon in a participating state, officials said. The agreement, in accordance with federal and state privacy protections, will provide state law enforcement agencies with details on the firearm purchase or permit denials for those who are disqualified. People may be disqualified from owning a firearm for several reasons, including an arrest warrant, order of protection, debilitating mental health condition, or criminal history.

Member states will also join New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and Rhode Island in directing their law enforcement intelligence centers to work cooperatively to trace the use of out-of-state guns in crimes and share information in order to intercept criminals transporting illegal guns across state borders. The partner states will also work together to designate an institute of higher education to join the Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium, a multi-disciplinary data-collection group tasked with producing recommendations for reducing gun violence. The governors said the consortium will fill the void left by the federal government’s 1996 ban on the use of federal funds to study gun violence.

The states will also work to push the federal government to adopt “common-sense” gun safety measures and call on the federal government to enact universal background checks, an assault weapons ban, and a federal waiting period between the purchase and delivery of guns.

Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.

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