Frustrated with the lack of action in Washington, the governors of four Northeastern states on Thursday pledged to do what they can to stop the senseless gun violence that has rocked the nation.
"We are not waiting for federal action," New York Gov. Andrew Coumo said during a conference call with reporters and the governors of Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Jersey.
"All of our states are already ahead of Washington on this issue," Coumo said, referring to gun control. "We hope Parkland will spur federal action, but we are not going to hold our breathe. "
The quartet of Democratic governors conceded they can’t collectively ban assault weapons nationally or strengthen national background checks. But they said they can work together to take steps to prevent massacres such as what happened in Parkland, Florida or Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.
They pledged to jointly resume studies on gun violence terminated by the Trump administration, share law enforcement data and information on mentally ill residents, trace and intercept weapons and stop people denied a gun in one state from jumping to another state to buy a weapon.
"This is coordinating and deepening coordination and intelligence sharing," said New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, who dubbed the new task force the Coalition States for Gun Safety.
"It’s something that in light of that awful tragedy [in Florida] we felt we wanted to accelerate," Murphy said. "And in the absence of action in Congress, we said let’s form a coalition of like-minded states."
Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo said she her family watched the coverage of Parkland on television.
"My daughter asked me,‘Mom, what are you going to do about it.’” Raimondo said. “They want answers and they want action and they are afraid.”
Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said there is much the governors can accomplish by working together.
"Let’s work across the border," Malloy added. "Let’s advocate for better laws across the region and reach out to other governors and ask them to participate as well. It’s a way of saying we can’t wait for the federal government to act.”
The effort came as Parkland students marched and advocated for a ban on the type of assault weapon used to kill 17 of their classmates on Valentine’s Day. They pushed for age restrictions on who can buy weapons and beefed up background checks.
President Donald Trump met Wednesday with the students, and victims of Sandy Hook, and backed improved background checks while advocating arming teachers - a move the governors opposed.
“Arming teachers, that makes sense,” Coumo said sarcastically. “All it does is bring more money to gun manufacturers, and the NRA more money.”
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn, also blasted Trump’s plan to arm teachers.Read Full Article
"The idea of arming teachers is inane and insane — and soundly rejected by the education community — despite both the NRA and President Trump continuing to tout it," Blumenthal said.
"I will fight for real reforms — inspired by the energy and courage of students who have marched in the street — including banning assault weapons, limiting high capacity magazines and universal background checks," Blumenthal added.
“Not rocket science”
Malloy said Connecticut banned assault weapons after Sandy Hook and enacted other measures. He said the regional cooperation by the governors will help keep guns out of cities such as Bridgeport and New Haven.
"We know what happens down South," Malloy said. “Those guns get on I-95 and make it to Bridgeport or New Haven or other places. They are used for crime on the street."
Raimondo said she’s disappointed with the response from Washington on gun violence.
"We can’t wait for Washington to the right thing,” Raimondo said. “We are taking concrete practical action steps. Gun laws save lives."
Raimondo said Rhode Island still allows the sale of assault weapons and pledged to push for a ban.
"I’m going to be working with the legislature to fix that,” Raimondo said. "We will try to convince other governors to join us. We can send a message that it is possible to improve our gun laws."
Coumo said New York passed strict gun controls after Sandy Hook.
“I’m not especially optimistic that the federal government is going to be responsible,” Coumo noted. “Trump has pledged allegiance to the NRA. “It’s not rocket science, it takes political courage.”
Coumo added “I have the political scars for what we did. Politicians like [U.S. Sen.] Marco Rubio [R-Florida] should be ashamed of themselves. They have nothing meaningful to propose.”
The New York governor said regional cooperation among states "is the next evolution" of action to protect residents from gun violence.
Malloy added "This gives us a different level of protection and it makes sense to share information across borders."