NEW YORK - The governors of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Rhode Island have announced plans to create a regional task force, including state law enforcement and intelligence officials, to fight gun violence.
They announced the creation of a coalition named "States for Gun Safety" during a conference call on Thursday morning.
The four states will share intelligence, study gun violence and form a task force to intercept illegal guns.
The governors are saying they cannot wait for the federal government to act, noting the "utter and complete inaction by Congress."
In a tweet, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said the goal is making "our entire region safer."
Murphy said that shooting accelerated the governors' idea to form the coalition, which has been in the works for about a year.
Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. said waiting for the federal government to act would be a mistake.
"We have states with good intentions, with good laws. Let's take it to the next level, let's work across our borders. Let's not just advocate for better laws in our state, but advocate for better laws in our own region," he said.
Malloy said Connecticut has a law that prevents people with protective orders against them from continuing to possess or buy guns in the state. He said sharing that information with bordering states makes sense, considering residents travel to nearby states to make purchases.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said his state created a mental health database after the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, where 26 children and adults were slain. It now contains the names of about 77,000 people who can't purchase a gun in New York. He said that information could be shared with the other states, along with state data about arrest warrants and protective orders that typically aren't included in the National Instant Criminal Background Check system.
Cuomo raised concerns about the idea of arming teachers.
"The answer is not to make the schools armed camps. That is where they are going to go in Washington. Why? Because that's where the NRA wants them to go. Because it means selling more guns and the NRA is in the business of selling guns... The only thing (arming teachers) would do is bring more guns into the school, more money for gun manufacturers, which is what the NRA is really trying to say," Cuomo said.
While the governors noted that all four states have some of the more restrictive gun laws in the country, there are proposals to enact additional measures following the recent mass shootings.
Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo said it's still legal in her state to buy a military-style weapon, carry concealed firearms into schools and state buildings, and purchase high-capacity magazines - something she hopes to work with state lawmakers to change.
The four governors, all Democrats, will be urging others to join the coalition at this weekend's National Governors Association meeting.
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