Four Northeastern Governors Join Forces on Guns

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Photo by R via Flickr

Democratic governors from four northeastern states have joined forces to restrict the movement of illegal guns between their states and share information about residents who have been banned from owning firearms, the Wall Street Journal reports. A memorandum of understanding among governors of Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island creates a task force from the four states that will analyze and share information on guns purchased outside of the region that were involved in crimes, with the aim of intercepting people suspected of illegally bringing guns across the four states’ borders.

The agreement allows their law enforcement agencies to share information from their mental health registries, which aren’t included in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. New York’s database, for example, lists more than 70,000 people who are prohibited from possessing firearms because mental health professionals have diagnosed them as likely to hurt themselves or others.

“All of our states are already ahead of the federal government when it comes to laws on this issue,” said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. New York and Connecticut strengthened gun-control measures after the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that killed 26, and New Jersey and Rhode Island also have strict firearm laws.

The four governors said they can better protect the region by sharing information and more closely cooperating between law enforcement agencies. Jeffrey Swanson, a professor of psychiatry at Duke University who studies gun policies, said even background checks that include mental health information wouldn’t prevent all mass shootings because many people who are prone to violence don’t fall into the categories that would merit inclusion on these registries.

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