A Step Forward in Tracking Down Illegal Guns

We applaud Gov. Baker’s intention to make Massachusetts the fifth state in a gun-safety coalition focused on tracking down illegal guns and ending gun violence. 

The deaths of 17 in the Valentine’s Day school shooting in Florida has spiked the volume of anger and outrage over mass shootings and the tragic recurring phenomenon of psychotics obtaining military-grade killing machines like the AR-15 rifle. 

By joining “States for Gun Safety,” Massachusetts unites with Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island in developing a regional approach to gun safety. State public safety officials are working out the details of joining the coalition, The State House News Service reported on Sunday.

That effort is underway as state Attorney General Maura Healey meets with Democratic counterparts in Washington, the News Service reported, to tout steps states have taken to reduce gun violence and to call on Washington to pass a bill addressing access to guns.

To his credit, Baker reached out to the coalition last Friday a day after the coalition’s participating governors announced their initiative. Massachusetts Parents United (MPU) urged the governor to sign on to the coalition, according to the News Service. 

That call to action by the 7,500-parent organization reflects the level of anger and frustration felt nationwide by people who are fed up with the notion that government cannot keep weapons of mass slaughter out of the hands of people who have no business possessing an AR-15 or similar weapon. 

The frustration felt nationwide has amplified into calls for action for President Trump to address gun violence beyond the notion of arming teachers. The National Rifle Association is also facing economic sanctions for continuing to defend the undefendable. 

If the federal government through Trump or Congress cannot keep rifles out of the hands of killers, then coalitions like “States for Gun Safety” are determined to take regional approaches to solving the problem and ending the killings. 

States in the new coalition will share information about “individuals who are prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm within that state, the News Service reported. They will also establish a regional gun-violence consortium, which will include experts in health, social welfare, public policy, and criminal justice from a higher education institution in each state.

To its credit, the coalition plans to create a multi-state task force to track down illegal guns. Guns move across state lines, according to law-enforcement experts, so it makes sense to have law-enforcement agencies work across state lines to intercept illegal guns.

That approach brings multiple resources to bear on strengthening gun control instead of leaving the work of interstate firearms investigation and enforcement in the federal government’s hands. 

Parkland, Fla., is the latest landmark in a litany of mass murder. The national protests over the school shootings and the formation of organizations like “States for Gun Safety” are positive signs that Americans, far from being desensitized to mass shootings, are ready to end them.

Rebecca Rutenberg