Attorneys General Aim to Curb Regional Gun Violence, Trafficking - Southern Maryland Headline News

Attorneys General Aim to Curb Regional Gun Violence, Trafficking

WASHINGTON (Jan. 15, 2016)—Attorneys general from Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia met on Friday to coordinate efforts on reducing gun violence and illegal gun trafficking in the region.

"The folks who are doing the crimes are doing it across the borders," Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh said at a news conference. "We clearly have a problem regionally."

District of Columbia Attorney General Karl A. Racine hosted Frosh and Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring in his office in the nation's capital. All three are Democrats who have pushed for gun safety measures in the past and support universal background checks for gun buyers.

"The communication between our offices will help us be more successful in prosecuting criminals," Frosh said.

"We believe that working in cooperation with our friends in the District of Columbia and Virginia, we can make a difference in enforcing the laws and stopping gun trafficking and gun violence," Frosh added.

All three attorneys general will have designated people to coordinate efforts in the region and to maintain regular communication among the offices.

On average each year, gun violence takes 850 lives in Virginia, 550 in Maryland and 100 in the District of Columbia, according to Frosh.

Frosh credited Maryland's sweeping Firearm Safety Act of 2013 for the strides he thought his state has made in gun violence.

The law requires gun buyers to obtain a license from the state police and restricts the carrying and transporting of handguns in Maryland. The law also bans various types of assault weapons.

Frosh also drew contrasts to the gun laws in Connecticut and Missouri.

Frosh said after Connecticut adopted requirements similar to Maryland's, gun deaths went down 40 percent. In Missouri, after the state repealed its requirements for the licensing of gun purchases, gun deaths went up 20 percent.

Since Maryland's new law took effect on Oct. 1, 2013, more than 600 people have been denied permits because they failed background checks, according to Frosh.

Frosh said that more than 40 percent of guns used in crimes come from outside Maryland.

"That's a good news, bad news situation," he said. "It's too bad that they're coming from out of state. The good news is, it is difficult for criminals to buy guns in Maryland."

"And as it becomes more difficult, we'll see that more crimes are reduced, but the proportion of crimes that occur with guns that are purchased out-of-state will probably rise," Frosh said.

Racine said a proposal to draft a voluntary code of conduct for gun suppliers was discussed during the meeting.

"By virtue of that code of conduct, we would have fewer purchases and better controls of inventory," Racine said. "We talked about tangible ideas."

Herring said the heroin prescription crisis that has spread across the Washington metropolitan area was also a talking point for a "few minutes" during the meeting.

"We are all members of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic (heroin) Task Force and committed to working across state lines on this issue as well, because we know that traffickers are moving this poison all around our region and we have to work together," Herring said.


PRESS RELEASE: Attorneys General of Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. Address Gun Violence Strategies at First-Ever Regional Meeting

Frosh, Herring and Racine pledge increased collaboration and information sharing to target illegal guns and reduce gun violence in region

WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 15, 2016)—Attorney General Brian E. Frosh today joined Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring and Washington, D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine for a first-of-its-kind regional meeting to discuss collaboration and cooperation across state lines to reduce and gun violence in the national capital region.

The three legal officers agreed to designate a point person in each office to work with counterparts to establish a structure for greater communication, and to facilitate the sharing of strategies and criminal information and to develop new initiatives. They briefed each other on ongoing strategies in each jurisdiction, and reinforced their commitment to make sure that dangerous individuals do not have access to guns.

"Crime doesn't respect boundaries, and our crime-fighting strategies need to cross jurisdictions as well," said Attorney General Frosh. "I applaud my colleagues for their commitment to ending gun violence and illegal gun trafficking. We might have different laws, but we have the same goals."

Added Attorney General Herring: "Too many families in Virginia, Maryland, and the District, have been touched by gun violence. They unfortunately know what it's like to have a loved one in the wrong place at the wrong time, and how quickly an act of gun violence can change a life forever," said Attorney General Herring. "We can and should do more to enforce our existing gun laws, even while advocating for additional measures like universal background checks. This partnership with Attorney General Frosh and Attorney General Racine is going to allow us to work regionally to reduce gun violence and illegal gun sales and possession."

"Gun violence takes a terrible toll not only on families in the District, but on families across the Washington region," said Attorney General Racine. "My colleagues are here because we all want to be good neighbors to each other in this region, and we want to reduce the gun violence that results from the illegal gun trade. All of our jurisdictions have to live with the consequences of the proliferation of illegal guns—and the trade in guns is regional, so we believe any solutions must be regional."

According to data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and published by the Baltimore Sun, of the 5,079 guns used in crimes in Maryland in 2014, 43 percent came from other states. More of those guns came from Virginia than any other place (533), followed by Pennsylvania (309).

As a member of the General Assembly, Attorney General Frosh was the chief advocate of the Maryland Firearm Safety Act of 2013, regarded as one of the strongest gun safety laws in the nation. Attorney General Frosh told his colleagues yesterday that since the law's handgun licensing requirements took effect, 627 handgun qualification license applications have been disapproved, mainly for misdemeanor or felony convictions.

Attorney General Frosh last year sent a letter to each Attorney General in the U.S. updating them on research from the Johns Hopkins Center For Gun Policy Research showing that handgun licensing requirements lead to a reduction in gun homicides.

This was the first time Attorneys General Frosh, Herring and Racine have held a joint meeting, and the first time the chief legal officers of Virginia, Maryland, and Washington D.C. have met to discuss gun violence prevention and reduction.

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