A day after four of his Democratic counterparts announced a gun safety coalition, Republican Gov. Charlie Baker signaled plans to join their data-sharing group. Separately, Attorney General Maura Healey plans to join her Democratic counterparts Monday in Washington to tout steps states have taken to reduce gun violence and to call on Washington to pass a bill addressing access to guns.
“The Baker-Polito Administration will join the gun safety coalition to enhance the strong gun control measures already in place here and Massachusetts public safety officials are currently working with coalition members on the MOU’s specific requirements,” Baker director of communications Lizzy Guyton said in a statement late Saturday afternoon.
Baker’s staff reached out to the coalition Friday to inquire about participating after learning about its formation through the media – the governors of Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island announced the coalition’s formation on Thursday. Setti Warren, a Democrat running for governor, said on Friday he would join the group, if elected, and Massachusetts Parents United (MPU) on Friday called on Baker to sign on.
“Massachusetts must not wait for a tragedy like Parkland to happen — we need to strengthen our gun safety system now,” MPU founder Keri Rodriguez said. “The 7,500 parents in our organization expect Gov. Baker to join our neighboring states in this commonsense coalition now.”
Gov. Baker planned to visit the White House Sunday night for a “governors’ ball” with President Trump, part of the annual National Governors Association meetings.
On Friday, Vice President Mike Pence spoke to governors, reminding them that Trump this week called on Congress to strengthen background checks and has called for raising the age for the purchase of certain firearms and directed the Department of Justice to expedite the banning of bump stocks.
Saying “the time has come for us to work together to find new and renewed ways to put the safety and security of our children and our schools first,” Pence told the governors to expect a “significant discussion” on Monday.
States in the new coalition will share information about “individuals who are prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm within that state,” for reasons including arrest warrants, protection orders, debilitating mental health conditions or criminal history. They will direct law enforcement to cooperate to trace out-of-state guns used in crimes and to share information with the goal of intercepting criminals transporting illegal guns across state lines.
The memorandum of understanding signed by Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy and Govs. Andrew Cuomo of New York, Phil Murphy of New Jersey and Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island also charges the states with establishing 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.
In a video over the weekend, Raimondo noted she signed a law last year that “takes guns away from abusers” but said the nation’s gun laws “are among the weakest in the world” – it’s still legal in Rhode Island, she said, to buy a military-style weapon or high-capacity magazines or to carry a firearm into state buildings and schools.
Raimondo said she found hope watching students from Parkland, Florida advocating in recent days for new laws in the wake of the Feb. 14 mass shooting at a Broward County high school that left 14 students and three faculty members dead. Nikolas Cruz, 19, has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder in connection with the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
In the video, Raimondo said her daughter has been asking her, “what are you going to do about it?”
“It’s on us to make sure the future is there for them,” she said. “I’m going to use the full weight of my office as governor to fight for gun reform. Military-style weapons belong in the military, not in our communities. And our teachers need supplies, not firearms. And no one needs to be able to fire off dozens of bullets in seconds. We’re going to do our part in Rhode Island, but we also need national gun reform.”
At 1:30 p.m. Monday, Healey plans to join California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and six of counterparts for a Democratic Attorneys General Association press conference in Washington focused on gun violence. According to organizers, they will be joined by Greg Gibson, whose sister Wendy died by suicide with a gun and whose son Galen was killed in a school shooting.
“It’s long overdue that we do something rational on gun control,” Congressman Michael Capuano said during an appearance Sunday on WVCB’s “On the Record.”