Four governors announce gun safety coalition

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy of Connecticut, Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey, Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York, and Gov. Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island today (Feb. 22) announced the formation of the new “States for Gun Safety” coalition to combat gun violence.

“In the face of repeated federal inaction, the multi-state coalition will enter into a Memorandum of Understanding to better share information and tackle this devastating epidemic through a comprehensive, regional approach,” a joint press release said. “The coalition will advance a multi-pronged effort focused on enhancing inter-state information sharing among law enforcement, stopping the flow of out-of-state guns, and creating the nation’s first Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium that will study the issue across multiple disciplines to better inform policy makers nationwide.”

The governors said that by working together, their states would be able to tackle issues related to the epidemic of gun violence while federal action by Congress and the President remains to be taken. They are inviting other states from across the nation to join their effort.

“We refuse to allow federal inaction to enact commonsense, gun safety laws endanger the lives of our residents,” Malloy said. “Despite the best efforts of powerful lobbyists from special interest groups, we will work together as a coalition of states to keep our communities safe. We cannot sit back and let guns get into the hands of those who shouldn’t have them, and we cannot simply watch almost daily tragedy occur. One thing remains clear: We would be better off if every state and the federal government enacted sensible gun safety rules. We will not wait for Washington to act — the time for action is now.”

“Gun violence is not a New Jersey problem, a New York problem, a Connecticut problem, a Rhode Island problem, or a problem for any particular state or region — it is a national problem,” Murphy said. “However, we cannot wait for Congress or the President to act. As states, we must work together to take the steps and enact measures to protect our residents and our communities. But, even more importantly, a collective of states can take these steps together to broaden the reach and impact of common sense gun safety laws.”

“Here in New York, we’re proud to be home to the nation’s strongest gun safety law.  However, the federal government’s continued inaction on this issue has not only allowed the epidemic of gun violence to spread, but it has actually prevented the laws like the SAFE Act from being fully effective,” Cuomo said. “Rather than wait for the federal government to come to its senses and pass responsible gun safety legislation, New York is joining with New Jersey, Connecticut and Rhode Island to take matters into our own hands. Not only will this groundbreaking partnership take new steps to prevent illegal guns from crossing state lines, but by forming the nation’s first Region Gun Violence Research Consortium, we will be able to better inform policymakers nationwide on how to keep their communities safe.”

“Rhode Island has some of the nation’s strongest gun laws, but our nation has some of the world’s weakest,” Raimondo said. “Kids in Florida and across the nation are taking action, and it’s not a surprise: We’ve forced them to lead because for years elected officials in Washington have refused to. We will stand up with our students and with parents to strengthen our gun laws and combat gun violence.”

According to the press release, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island will share information about individuals who are prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm within that state. The current lack of information-sharing between the four states has prevented state law enforcement agencies from knowing if an individual has attempted to purchase or permit a weapon in a neighboring state. 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.

Despite the passage of gun safety laws restricting the purchase and carry of firearms across the four states, the lack of federal regulations preventing individuals from purchasing guns in other states and bringing them across borders has undermined state legislation, the release said. To combat this practice, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island will direct 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 bringing illegal guns across state borders. Sharing information under this agreement will be the Connecticut Intelligence Center, the New Jersey Regional Operations Intelligence Center, the New York State Intelligence Center, and the Rhode Island State Fusion Center.

The four states will each designate an institution of higher education to partner with the others and create the nation’s first Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium comprised of dedicated public health, social welfare, public policy, and criminal justice experts who will share and examine data to better inform policymakers nationwide.  This groundbreaking consortium will fill the void left by the federal government’s 1996 ban on the use of federal funds to study gun violence which has obstructed research efforts across the nation, including at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute of Health.

Building on these efforts, the group will call on the federal government to swiftly enact universal background checks, an assault weapons ban, and a federal waiting period between the purchase and delivery of guns.

In 2013, following the tragedy in Sandy Hook, the Connecticut General Assembly adopted bipartisan legislation to implement some of the strongest gun violence prevention laws in the nation, which included the banning of the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and helps keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill.  In 2016, Malloy signed legislation prohibiting the possession of firearms for anyone who becomes subject to a temporary restraining order.

This year, Malloy proposed legislation that will ban any type of enhancement that increases the rate of fire of a semiautomatic weapon, including, but not limited to, bump stocks, trigger cranks, binary trigger systems, and any other modifications.

Memorandum of Understanding for the States for Gun Safety coalition