Oct 7, 2021
Northeast Governors Announce Gun Violence Action Press Conference Transcript
Governors Kathy Hochul, Phil Murphy, Tom Wolf, and Ned Lamont held a press conference on October 7 to discuss gun violence prevention. Read the transcript of the briefing here.
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Gov. Phil Murphy: (00:00)
… gun violence in our communities. This effort continues our partnership through our states for gun safety coalition. As we’ve noted before, when we work together as regional partners to enact regional solutions, we’re far better off than if we all go on our own and we clearly saw that throughout the pandemic. And a critical piece of this is sharing information so we can put smart policies to work. I’m proud of what we’ve done in New Jersey as it relates to common sense gun safety laws. We are among the Vanguard nationally, and I stand shoulder to shoulder with my colleagues in the realization that our work is far from done. 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. In New Jersey, in the first half of 2021, the data released by our attorney general’s office shows that roughly 85% of the crime guns recovered here between January and July came from out of state.
Gov. Phil Murphy: (01:05)
Our state and frankly, our region remains the final destination for guns flowing from the south and especially along the iron pipeline. Fully 25% of traced crime guns come from just three states, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina, where weak gun laws are ripe for exploitation. And again, it bears repeating in our state, 85% of the crime guns came from out of state. The reality is that guns don’t understand the concept of state lines, but those who purchase them do. Working together we can, as a region, put in place the safeguards we need to combat the trade in illicit guns as we continue imploring Congress to enact strong national gun safety measures.
Gov. Phil Murphy: (01:50)
That’s why we’re signing this memorandum of understanding today to share with each other states, relevant crime gun statistics on a regular basis with the designated law enforcement agencies. It’s a classic case where there’s safety in numbers. We’re stronger if we move as a region and I’ll speak for myself and I suspect we’re all in violent agreement, we couldn’t have better partners than the folks on this screen. Again, I thank my fellow governors for their commitment to public safety and to closing the pipeline of guns that lead to our state. And it is my great honor to introduce the governor of the great state of New York, Governor Kathy Hochul
Gov. Kathy Hochul: (02:28)
Well, thank you, Governor Murphy, for your incredible leadership on this and so many other areas where we have a common bond as the governors of the adjoining state. So Pennsylvania, our friend, Tom Wolf, as well as Ned Lamont from Connecticut. And I want to thank all of you for your willingness to collaborate. It’s not always a word used in terms of governors or people that in our positions but it’s the way we get things done for the people we are honored to represent. And the gun crisis, the gun violence crisis has been with us a long time. As a young staffer on Capitol hill for Senator Moynihan many decades ago, we worked on this issue. But what we have seen as a result of this pandemic is a spike in gun violence. And I’m sure there’ll be psychologists who study a long time from now what that’s exactly attributed to.
Gov. Kathy Hochul: (03:14)
But we do know that the results are being seen in our streets and in our communities. And people deserve to have leadership, people who are going to work together to find solutions. This memorandum is transformative. I believe this is going to give us and our law enforcement entities. In each of our states, the tools we need to be able to trace guns that are coming from other states, to understand when a crime has been committed. We want and share information with our neighboring state if someone’s on the run, where are the guns coming from, how are they getting on our streets, and why is there such a disproportionate impact of young people, particularly in communities of color who are becoming the victims of gun violence. So we all share in this common goal to do whatever we can in our power to eradicate this situation and to do everything we can to save lives in our states. And part of it comes down to just fixing something that, as you mentioned, if Congress would simply allow us to share this nationally, what a better place we would be.
Gov. Kathy Hochul: (04:11)
But in the meantime, this is where the states are the incubators and they’re the ones who are the innovators who come up with policies, working collaboratively among ourselves. And if we can be a model for the rest of the nation, and again, I thank Governor Murphy for bringing us together and your leadership on this to say that we can do so much more together. So I’m hoping is that we can put this template in place, have our law enforcement partners all work in sync together, share the information that we get from the FBI already, but only goes to our individual states. That information is going to be useful, but I think other states should either join our coalition, or that they should form their own regional collaboratives as well. And that’s how we’re going to get to the bottom of this crisis. But I look forward to working on this and many other issues in this spirit of collaboration that we see here today. And with that I’d like to join my neighbor, our great governor, Tom Wolf from the State of Pennsylvania.
Gov. Tom Wolf: (05:06)
Thank you very much, Governor Hochul. I really appreciate working with you on this. And I agree with you. Governor Murphy, thank you for your leadership and it’s great to work with our neighboring states. And of course, it’s always good to work with the state of Connecticut and Governor Lamont. Thank you very much for working together on this really important project. And I couldn’t agree with you more Governor Hochul, if we want to reduce the scourge of gun violence we have got to work together in ways that we have not before. We’ve got to work with our partners within our states and our communities, but also with each other. And I think this can be a very powerful and innovative way to approach this decision. And I’m very proud to be able to work with New York and New Jersey and Connecticut in doing this. Listen, we know that gun violence and homicide rates have risen over the past year and Governor Hochul you’re right.
Gov. Tom Wolf: (05:57)
I think it’ll take years for psychologists and others to figure out exactly why that is. But the pandemic has certainly had an influence at least in Pennsylvania. While it was necessary to stay apart, to fight that pandemic, the isolation that many experienced, this is our experience in Pennsylvania, also stripped away support networks and safety nets. The same time it caused increasing stress, anxiety, fear, and clearly anger. Data shows that 2020 gun violence, I’m talking about Pennsylvania here, were up across the board, all across the state. According to data published by the Pennsylvania State Police, the number of gun homicide statewide in 2020 increased by 48% compared to 2019. In Philadelphia, fatal and nonfatal shootings also increased by nearly 40% in 2020 compared to 2019. And in the first eight months of 2020, almost as many people have been shot in the city of Philadelphia as were shot in all of 2019. Gun violence cuts right to the heart of our communities, tearing families apart.
Gov. Tom Wolf: (07:08)
It’s sows fear, it sows distrust. And just like so many forms of systemic inequality and Governor Hochul you said this very well, interpersonal gun violence disproportionately affects people in communities of color. In 2020, 67.5% of gun homicide victims in Pennsylvania were black even though black Pennsylvanians make up just 12% of the population of Pennsylvania. Reducing gun violence in communities throughout Pennsylvania is a priority for me and my administration. And that’s why in 2019, I signed an executive order making sweeping changes to reduce gun violence in Pennsylvania. I created the special council on gun violence within the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. My administration invested nearly $7 million in community violence prevention and reduction grant programs over the past several years.
Gov. Tom Wolf: (07:59)
This year’s budget, we put $30 million into the violence prevention effort to give local communities and local community based organizations the resources they need to work on preventing gun violence. These efforts are making a difference, but as Governor Murphy said, I don’t think anybody disagrees. We have so much work that we have to do this data sharing agreement, this memorandum of understanding between our states is an important step in the right direction. And I’m proud that Pennsylvania is joining this agreement. So thank you for including Pennsylvania and I’m proud to be part of this. So thank you. And now I’m going to turn this over to a good friend, Governor Ned Lamont of Connecticut. Governor Lamont.
Gov. Ned Lamont: (08:40)
Well, Hey, you guys. And, Kathy, welcome to our merry group here. We worked together very closely during COVID and we found that working together, we were a lot more effective. As Phil said, COVID doesn’t know state borders and neither do guns. Phil your comments about where these guns are coming, coming in from out of state of what we can do together to track and trace them. Phil, you’re right. I mean, talking just about gun violence is a symptom of so much more that’s going on in this post COVID world, the isolation, the quarantine, what that’s done in terms of stress, what that’s done in terms of extreme activities going on in our schools, on our streets. And guns just exacerbate that. And, Kathy, I think you’re right. I want to see this coalition grow and expand because that will make us so much more effective. This database is really important.
Gov. Ned Lamont: (09:37)
Right now we’re all putting more police on the street, more community policing, more folks of the community looking out. A little like the war on drugs. You don’t want to just go after that kid with a nickel bag or that kid with a pistol, we’re going to take care of them. But I want to go after the king pins, I want to go after those pushers. I want to go after those big drug and gun wholesalers. Those big guns, so to speak. And that’s what this eat, trace system allows us to do. We can track that gun back, see where it originates from, see what commonality there is and find the big guns that are pushing these out on the street. Despite our best efforts, despite our best gun safety laws, we have more damn guns in the street than we ever have before. And if you’re not taking guns seriously, you’re not taking law and order seriously. And that’s why I’m really proud to be with each and every one of you. And Phil, thank you so much for convening us and getting us together and taking a lead on this.
Gov. Phil Murphy: (10:34)
Ned, thank you. So I was just handed the actual… Those are our four signatures. So this is official. A really huge step, but I want to also echo Kathy’s point, this is a coalition that I believe should grow and it will grow as we welcome in more of our fellow governors and fellow states. And Kathy also alluded to another point in the absence of national action in Congress, maybe there are different coalitions in different parts of the country that may not be neighbors with us, that who should be doing the same thing. So to each and every one of you, Governor Hochul, Governor Wolf, Governor Lamont, my late mother would say, “You’re known by the company you keep.” We’re all keeping a darn good company on this one. Wish you a great day ahead. And again, this is a huge step for our region and I can’t thank you enough, everybody.
Gov. Kathy Hochul: (11:23)
Gov. Phil Murphy: (11:24)
Take care folks.