Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and three of his northeastern counterparts unveiled a new multistate coalition Thursday to strengthen gun regulation efforts.
Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island will begin sharing databases and criminal intelligence and coordinating research related to potential firearm purchases, gun trafficking and violent crime.
“What we are doing today is very different,” Malloy said during a conference call with Govs. Phil Murphy of New Jersey, Andrew Cuomo of New York and Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island. “We can’t wait for the federal government to act. … We have waited for Washington to do something and, of course, that never quite happens.”
Other states will be invited to join the coalition, which is not a reaction to the Feb. 14 fatal shooting of 17 people at a high school in Parkland, Fla., Murphy said.
Because of that tragedy, the New Jersey governor said, “we wanted to accelerate,” but the need for a coalition became clear in recent years because of the “complete and utter inaction in Congress” in response to dozens of mass shootings.
New Jersey and New York already have been sharing data on the tracking and interception of illegal guns, as well as other related information, Murphy said.
Cuomo and Malloy said the new coalition also could share information on protective court orders, issues of mental illness, and other factors that have disqualified potential gun purchasers.
Malloy added that “there is a great body of knowledge” many states have pooled because of the many tragedies involving gun violence in recent years.
Having served as mayor of Stamford for 14 years from 1995 through 2009, Malloy said many guns used in violent crimes in the Northeast were purchased in states with lenient gun control laws, particularly in the South. “Those guns get on I-95” and are transported “all the way up through New England.”
The four states also would develop a regional gun violence research consortium centered on their respective state university systems. The governors said this is essential since federal policy effectively has blocked the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from studying gun violence.
“We’re not going to hold our breath, and we’re not going to risk our children’s lives,” Cuomo said. “This is a federal government that has gone backwards on this issue.”
The New York governor said President Trump’s administration has stopped the Social Security Administration from providing information to states on mental health issues for use in background checks.
Critics of gun control measures have argued that states should do more to enhance school security and to treat mental illness rather than placing restrictions on law-abiding gun owners.
Cuomo called the mental health argument “a sham and a fraud,” adding that many who make this argument still oppose universal background checks and efforts to develop a comprehensive, national database.
Raimondo said absent leadership on gun control from Washington, states have to act because school children are being educated in a growing culture of fear and uncertainty.
“Let’s face it, our kids are growing up with mass shootings in the news and growing up with active shooter drills,” she said. Raimondo added that while she recalls drilling for fires as a girl in school, children now “learn how to barricade the door” to keep a shooter out of the classroom.
“They want answers,” she said. “They want action and they are afraid.”