The states of Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York entered into an agreement last week allowing state law enforcement agencies to share information about gun purchases across state lines.
“Despite our best gun safety laws, we have more damn guns on the street than we ever had before,” Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont said in an online announcement with the other three states. “And if you’re not taking guns seriously, you’re not taking law and order seriously.”
“I’m proud that CT has some of the lowest levels of gun-related and violent crime in the US,” he added on Twitter. “I’m even more proud to join NJ, NY, &; PA in today’s multi-state compact to track and trace guns.”
I’m proud that CT has some of the lowest levels of gun-related and violent crime in the US. I’m even more proud to join NJ, NY, & PA in today’s multi-state compact to track and trace guns. We’re setting an example of how to prevent potential gun violence & keep people safe. pic.twitter.com/gJY0pCTC24— Governor Ned Lamont (@GovNedLamont) October 7, 2021
The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) directs state law enforcement agencies to transmit all “crime gun data” with the exception of “traces that have been designated priority and/or sensitive.” The frequency of these transmissions will be determined by the states, but the MOU allows agencies to transmit all data prior to the agreement.
The data is only allowed to be used for “law enforcement purposes” and is to be “protected against unauthorized use.”
Even though these states boast some of the strictest gun laws in the country, they’re still dealing with the violent crime wave that has swept the rest of the nation. Rather than consider how their gun laws have failed to deter violent criminals, these states have sought to blame neighboring states for their persistent problems.
“None of us on the screen here are blind to the fact that our individual states’ gun laws are only as good as those in the rest of our neighborhood,” said New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy.
It’s unclear whether this MOU will help law enforcement prevent crime, but that does not seem to be the primary motivation. Instead, proponents see this agreement as the first step in the nationalization of gun purchase data.
“If Congress would simply allow us to share this nationally, what a better place this would be,” said New York Governor Kathy Hochul.
The White House applauded the agreement Thursday, saying it encourages “other state and local officials to follow these Governors’ lead and collaborate to reduce our shared challenge of gun violence,” according to The Hill.
Under current law, local and state law enforcement agencies can request that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives trace the original point of sale of a gun suspected of being used in a crime. Local and state officials can access the ATF’s database of these traces, but only for those within their state.
This MOU seeks to circumvent that restriction by sharing all trace data among the four states in the agreement.