Massachusetts and Puerto Rico are joining four northeastern states in the “States for Gun Safety” coalition, which expands on the federal background check system by creating a multi-state gun database, Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy (D) told ThinkProgress on Sunday. Delaware is interested in joining, but hasn’t yet officially. The governor has also reached out to governors in Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.
Four Democratic governors, including Malloy, signed a memorandum last week in which they agreed to work together to combat gun violence. Their joint effort was forged in response to the federal government’s inaction after a horrific school shooting earlier this month by a teen gunman in Parkland, Florida left 17 people dead.
Governors from the four original signatory states promoted their coalition during the National Governors Association gathering in Washington D.C. over the weekend.
Malloy announced that Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) and Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello (D) have joined the initiative, which will allow their respective governments to share information on illegal firearms, in a bid to trace and intercept out-of-state guns. ThinkProgress reached out to Massachusetts and Puerto Rico, but did not immediately hear back.
The agreement would also allow local law enforcement to share mental health registry information, which is not currently included in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. The coalition also creates a regional gun violence research consortium.
“Quite frankly if the president is going to continue to defund it, we may have to build our own system at some point,” said Malloy of the federal background check system. The president’s budget proposal cuts funds to the background check system.
Several lawmakers have proposed fixes to the current background check system, which some say bears a large share of the blame for a spate of recent mass shootings across the United States. But others say proposed changes to the background system will not be enough to end the violent mass shootings, and are proposing other remedies.
Malloy, for one, intends to advocate for federal gun licensing laws, like the ones in his state. Licensing laws would subject potential buyers to a better vetting process, similar to that of car owners.
“There is no available evidence that comprehensive background checks without permit-to-purchase is effective in reducing shootings,” Daniel Webster, director of Center for Gun Policy and Research at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s, told Scientific America.
Some governors said they are hoping to speak with Trump administration officials about gun control later Sunday at a White House dinner.
Malloy told ThinkProgress that Health and Human Services Secretary (HHS) Alex Azar did not discuss gun control when he met with governors Saturday. This stands in stark contrast to the secretary’s earlier comments before Congress that federal gun control research is a priority.