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Multi-State Gun Safety Coalition Blasted As 'Admission Of Guilt'

Gov. Charlie Baker's move to add Massachusetts to a multi-state gun safety network amounts to "an admission of guilt by our government for not doing their jobs to stop criminal gun traffickers," according to the Gun Owners Action League, but the administration said it has been sharing data with other states and will continue working to improve those relationships.

Baker last month announced he would join the States for Gun Safety Coalition, an information-sharing effort launched by the Democrat governors of New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Connecticut.

The Gun Owners Action League, in a statement released Monday, blasted the memorandum of understanding establishing the coalition, saying the states' law enforcement agencies should already be sharing information about gun trafficking.

"The bottom line is that for decades our state leaders have had the necessary tools to get criminals and gun traffickers off the streets - and they have failed to do so," GOAL said in a statement. "Yet another systemic failure of government."

States in the coalition agree to improve the sharing of 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 plan to establish a regional gun violence consortium, and to direct law enforcement to work together to trace out-of-state guns used in crimes and share information in hopes of intercepting illegal guns carried across state lines.

"Massachusetts has some of the strongest gun control measures in the nation and the Baker-Polito Administration is proud of the work the Commonwealth has done over the years to share data and intelligence information across state lines and is in the process of working with states participating in this MOU to further promote public safety in our communities and across the region," Baker press secretary Brendan Moss said in a statement to the News Service.

Senate President Harriette Chandler said Senate Democrats plan to hold a caucus on Wednesday, weather permitting, to discuss whether there's a consensus to try to take additional steps to tighten gun control laws in Massachusetts.

"We will be having conversation this week in our caucus on the possibility of where have we gone, what have we done so far with gun legislation, what's ahead in terms of what legislation still exists that needs to be done and what's the best way to go forward on this," Chandler said.

Over the past several years, the House has taken the lead on gun control, but Chandler said that she personally supports proposed legislation that would allow people to petition the courts to have someone's guns taken away if they are deemed to be a threat to themselves or others.

"How can you not want to get involved in the protective measure. I don't want to see what happened in Florida happen here. I just don't want to, and then to have the Legislature in Florida turn down any normal, rationale approach makes no sense to me," she said.

"Meaningful and strict background checks, a ban on 'bump stocks' and 'trigger cranks,' and rejecting so-called 'concealed carry reciprocity' legislation that would undermine our state's licensing system would be a good start," Tarr and Chandler wrote in a Friday letter to U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Chandler, a Worcester Democrat, and Tarr, a Gloucester Republican, said they have experience working toward bipartisan agreement and offered to meet with the House and Senate leaders in either Boston or Washington. In addition to calling on for Congress to act on gun laws, they suggested the possibility of future action at the state level.

"Here in Massachusetts we have worked in a bipartisan and collaborative manner to enact some of the strongest and most comprehensive laws to regulate firearms in the country, and yet we too must consider what further commonsense steps can be taken," the letter said.

Matt Murphy contributed reporting.

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