Gov. Tom Wolf joined three governors Thursday to tout a new agreement that will allow the sharing of crime gun data across state lines.
Wolf, alongside New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, hosted a virtual press conference to discuss the memorandum signed by all four Democrats.
The four Democratic governors said the initiative will help target gun networks that cross state lines.
“Despite our best gun safety laws, we have more damn guns on the street than we ever had before,” Lamont said. “And if you’re not taking guns seriously, you’re not taking law and order seriously.”
Murphy said about 85% 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.
All the governors discussed the sharp increase in gun violence over the course of the past year, and attributed much of that to the pandemic.
“The pandemic has certainly had an influence, at least in Pennsylvania,” Wolf said, adding that isolation from others led to an increase in anxiety, fear and anger.
Hochul said she hoped that Congress would create a national database so information can be shared between all 50 states, but that states can serve as an “incubator” to show that it is an effective policy.
By sharing information on guns used in crimes between states, the governors hope law enforcement will be able to more easily investigate gun crimes and track down firearms traffickers.
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.
Said Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro in a news release: “We know that sharing information works. Two years after we launched Track + Trace, police are able to identify a record number of crime guns, allowing investigators to go after the source and help prevent shootings. This memorandum will help ensure we can continue our work.
“Gun trafficking does not respect state lines, and we must collaborate beyond our borders to stop it.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.