WASHINGTON — 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 In Missouri, after the state repealed its requirements for the licensing of gun purchases, gun deaths went up 20 percent.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.