4 Northeast States Sign 'Transformative' Agreement Targeting Gun Networks

Four Northeast states signed a 10-page agreement Thursday to share data on gun crimes and purchases for law enforcement to use in an effort to target gun networks, the Associated Press reported.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul, one of the four who entered the agreement called the collaboration transformative, said it was something the whole country could benefit from, citing a spike in gun violence during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"If Congress would simply allow us to share this nationally, what a better place this would be," Hochul said.

Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania also joined the agreement, which includes provisions aimed at protecting the security and proper use of the information shared. The Democratic governors of the four states said that the action will help to hinder gun networks that cross state borders.

"Despite our best gun safety laws, we have more damn guns on the street than we ever had before," Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont said in a joint online announcement with the other three states. "And if you're not taking guns seriously, you're not taking law and order seriously."

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Kathy Hochul Speaks at Anniversary Event
New York Governor Kathy Hochul, as well as the governors of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut, signed an agreement to share information on gun crimes and purchases between the states to target gun networks. Above, Hochul speaks at the fourth anniversary Hurricane Maria memorial event at Rockefeller Park on September 20, 2021, in New York City. James Devaney/GC Images

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said about 85 percent of guns recovered by police in his state over a recent six-month period came from other states.

"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," Murphy said.

Murphy has regularly pointed to gun control legislation he has signed as he seeks reelection this year in New Jersey. He's also promised, if reelected, to mandate safety courses for those seeking gun permits, require lockboxes to store firearms and make gun manufacturers liable for the harm caused by their products.

The states plan to share details they get from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives through "eTrace" reports that show who first bought and sold guns recovered during criminal investigations. The states can also share gun data that predates the Thursday agreement.

They are not required to share traces that are considered "priority and/or sensitive," according to the agreement.

CeaseFire PA, an organization that seeks to reduce gun violence in Pennsylvania, hailed the agreement as a step forward but said state lawmakers also could help by passing other measures, such as mandatory reporting of lost and stolen firearms.

"Until the General Assembly starts acting to reduce in-state illegal firearm trafficking, we'll continue to lose lives to this epidemic," said CeaseFire PA executive director Adam Garber.

The memorandum of understanding expires in five years but will automatically be renewed annually after that unless a state wants to get out. States may also withdraw with a 30-day notice.

The deal requires each state to designate and screen the law enforcement people who will be allowed access to the data, and it must be kept on computer systems dedicated to criminal justice.

The states must notify each other if the information is misused, including unauthorized access, disclosure, copying, modification, storage or deletion.

Governors Team Up to Share Gun Info
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and three others teamed up Thursday to share information on gun purchases and crimes. Above, Murphy (right) and Assemblyman Reed Gusciora attend the kickoff of the Democratic National Committee's and Murphy's America Is Back tour in Trenton, New Jersey. Craig Barritt/Getty Images for DNC