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October 08, 2021

Pennsylvania, New Jersey teaming up to address gun violence

The states have banded with New York and Connecticut to share information relevant to firearm crimes

Government Gun Violence
Gun data sharing Gov. Tom Wolf/Flickr

Pennsylvania and New Jersey joined New York and Connecticut in a multi-state effort to address gun violence. The four states will allow law enforcement agencies to share gun crime data in an effort to identify gun traffickers and straw purchasers.

Pennsylvania and New Jersey joined a multi-state agreement Thursday that allows law enforcement agencies to share gun crime data to aid criminal investigations and identify straw purchasers and gun traffickers. 

The memorandum of understanding also was signed by the governors of Connecticut and New York. All four states experienced increases in gun violence last year. 

"If we want to reduce the scourge of gun violence, we must work with partners in our communities, as well as our neighboring states, to curb the flow of illegal guns and those used to commit criminal acts," Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said. "This collaboration among our states will be an important resource to protect the public and I'm proud to work with New Jersey, New York and Connecticut on the shared goal of making our communities safer."

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives traces guns nationally, but Congress has not enabled the Department of Justice to create a national registration or system for states to communicate their gun data with each other, KYW reported.

About 85% of guns used in New Jersey crimes between January and July came from out of state, Gov. Phil Murphy said. 

"Firearms trafficking networks frequently engage in criminal activities on an interstate basis, and in order to prevent gun violence in our communities, we must work collaboratively as a region," Murphy said.

In Pennsylvania, guns are traced by the Attorney General's Office through the Track and Trace program. 

"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," Attorney General Josh Shapiro said. "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."

Nationally, gun violence deaths were higher in 2020 than at any point in at least two decades, according to the Washington Post. And that surge has continued this year. 

In Pennsylvania, more people were shot in the first eight months of 2020 than in the entirety of 2019, Wolf said. 

"In Philadelphia, fatal and non-fatal shootings also increased by nearly 48% in 2020, compared to 2019," Wolf said.

Philadelphia has reported 427 homicides so far this year — up 16% from last year's historic rate. 

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