Connecting state and local government leaders

4 States Form Gun Safety Coalition After Parkland Mass Shooting

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy Jessica Hill / AP Photo

The governors of four states agreed Thursday to create a shared database on people barred from buying or possessing a firearm to better prevent them from obtaining a gun or permit.

States for Gun Safety is a coalition consisting of New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and Rhode Island that will provide law enforcement with details on the firearm purchases and permit denials of disqualified individuals.

Disqualification can occur if a person has a warrant out for their arrest, an order of protection, a mental illness or a criminal history.

“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,” Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy said in the announcement. “One thing remains clear: we would be better off if every state and the federal government enacted sensible gun safety rules.”

The coalition forms eight days after a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which claimed the lives of 14 students and three teachers with more than a dozen others injured.

Since 2013, the U.S. has averaged a school shooting a week with 17 such shootings in 2018, according to Everytown for Gun Safety.

"Rhode Island has some of the nation's strongest gun laws, but our nation has some of the world's weakest,” said Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo in a statement. “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.”

Many Parkland survivors have pushed state and federal lawmakers for tighter gun controls banning assault rifles and requiring universal background checks for all buyers, a policy supported by 97 percent of American voters, according to a Quinnipiac University poll conducted after the shooting.

During a listening session Wednesday with Parkland survivors, President Trump indicated he’d consider a proposal to arm school teachers similar to airline pilots.

“You know, a lot of people don’t understand that airline pilots now, a lot of them carry guns, and I have to say that things have changed a lot,” Trump said. “People aren’t attacking the way they would routinely attack and maybe you would have the same situation in schools.”

The New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013 banned the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines while keeping guns away from those with mental illness. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration argues the lack of federal regulations preventing the transport of firearms across state lines undermines such state legislation.

A database will supplement the National Instant Criminal Background Check System intercepting out-of-state guns, and the agreement also outlines the nation’s first Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium to inform policymakers:

“The States of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Rhode Island recognize the need to develop new evidence-based strategies to prevent and disrupt the cycle of gun violence. Notwithstanding the federal government’s prohibition of federal support for gun violence research since 1996, the States of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Rhode Island have sought to address the causes and effects of gun-involved homicides, suicides, and injuries."

Higher education institutions will partner on the consortium in the areas of public health, social welfare, public policy and criminal justice.

In addition to an assault weapons ban and universal background checks, the coalition will push for a waiting period between the purchase and delivery of guns at the federal level.

“[A] collective of states can take these steps together broaden the reach and impact of common sense gun safety laws,” New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said in a statement.

Dave Nyczepir is a News Editor at Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.

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