Gov. Tom Wolf leads an Aug. 7, 2019 rally against gun violence in the Capitol rotunda. (Photo by PA Internet News Service)
The governors of four neighboring states, including Pennsylvania, launched a joint effort Thursday that they say will help the participating states fight gun violence and assist law enforcement entities with gun crime investigations.
In a virtual press briefing Thursday, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed what’s known as a memorandum of understanding authorizing the law enforcement agencies in the partnering states to share relevant gun crime data with each other in an effort to prevent gun crimes and violence as well as identify and apprehend traffickers and dealers of firearms.
“If we want to reduce the scourge of gun violence, we must work with partners in our communities, as well as our neighboring states, to curb the flow of illegal guns and those used to commit criminal acts,” Wolf said. “This collaboration among our states will be an important resource to protect the public and I’m proud to work with New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut on the shared goal of making our communities safer.”
In 2020, Pennsylvania saw a 48 percent increase in gun homicides over the previous year, according to Pennsylvania State Police data.
More than 67 percent of gun homicide victims were Black, Wolf noted during the briefing.
“Gun violence cuts right to the heart of our communities,” he said.
In a statement following the announcement, Adam Garber, the executive director of the Philadelphia-based anti-gun violence group CeaseFire PA, called the measure a step in the right direction. But he also called on the Legislature to enact stronger policies.
“Today’s announcement will bring law enforcement agencies closer together to help close off more of the pathways for illegal firearms fueling the rise in deadly violence. Each trafficker shutdown is another life saved, another safer community that will remain unscarred. While ultimately we need the General Assembly to enact policies that will strengthen law enforcement’s approach, such as requiring the reporting of lost or stolen firearms, Governor Wolf’s actions today move us closer to a Commonwealth where residents can live free from the horrific effects of gun violence.”
State Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, the co-chairperson of the violence reduction-focused PA SAFE Caucus, applauded the measure in a statement Thursday.
“Gun violence doesn’t begin or end at the state line, so it makes perfect sense that we would work closely with our neighbors to address the ongoing tragedy of gun violence,” Frankel said.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said on Twitter Thursday that the memorandum “builds” on previous efforts by his office and the administration to prevent gun violence and crimes.
Today's announcement builds on our work to collaborate and share gun trace information across state lines. We know that sharing information works. https://t.co/SHPoAL9BiA
— AG Josh Shapiro (@PAAttorneyGen) October 7, 2021
“We have so much more we have to do,” Wolf said.
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