The governors of four Northeastern states are combining resources in an effort to fight back against gun violence.
The governors in Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey announced the formation of a new “states for gun safety” coalition on Thursday.
The effort is intended to create partnerships and implement a multipronged approach that would include creating a database to supplement the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System; trace and intercept guns that are used in crimes; and launch the nation's first Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium.
“Rhode Island has some of the nation's strongest gun laws, but our nation has some of the world's weakest,” said Gov. Gina Raimondo. “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.
“We will stand up with our students and with parents to strengthen our gun laws and combat gun violence,” the governor said.
Raimondo signed legislation last year to take firearms away from domestic abusers and said she supports a statewide ban on the purchase of military-style weapons and high-capacity magazines.
As part of the new coalition, Rhode Island and the other states will establish a database to share information about individuals prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm within each state. By sharing this information, the governors said the states could more effectively prevent certain individuals from purchasing a gun, obtaining a weapon or getting a gun permit.
The agreement, in accordance with federal and state privacy protections, will provide state law enforcement agencies with details on firearm purchase or permit denials for those who are disqualified. The effort would also restrict certain individuals from owning a firearm for several reasons, including the presence of an arrest warrant, an order of protection, a debilitating mental health condition, or any criminal history.
“We refuse to allow federal inaction to enact common-sense gun safety laws endanger the lives of our residents,” said Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. “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.”
Despite the passage of gun safety laws, the lack of federal regulations preventing individuals from purchasing guns in other states and transporting them across borders has undermined state legislation.
To combat this practice, the four states 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 transporting illegal guns across state borders.
The four-state centers that will jointly share information under this agreement are the New York State Intelligence Center, the Connecticut Intelligence Center, New Jersey Regional Operations Intelligence Center, and the Rhode Island State Fusion Center.
The will also designate institutions of higher education to partner and create the nation’s first Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium. The consortium will be comprised of public health, social welfare, public policy, and criminal justice experts who will share and examine data to better inform policymakers nationwide.
Officials said the consortium will fill a 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 Institutes of Health.
Building on these efforts, officials said the states would also work to push the federal government to adopt gun safety measures and will call on the federal government to swiftly enact universal background checks, ban assault weapons, and imposed a federal waiting period between the purchase and delivery of guns.