Gun Reform

The gun homicide rate in the United States is more than 25 times that of other developed nations, resulting in about 11,000 Americans who are murdered by a gun in the United States each year. This violence affects the safety and security of communities across the country and in New York. While Senator Gillibrand supports the Second Amendment to the Constitution, she is focused on protecting communities in every corner of New York from unnecessary gun violence by supporting common sense solutions to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals.

Protecting Communities by Keeping Illegal Guns Out of New York

Nationally, there are roughly 500,000 gun crimes committed resulting in about 11,000 homicides each year. In 9 of 10 of these crimes where the gun has been successfully traced by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the person who originally purchased the firearm is not the person who committed the crime. In New York, nearly 74 percent of all crime guns recovered between 2010 and 2015 came from out-of-state.

Despite the illegal movement of guns across state lines, there is currently no federal law to define gun trafficking as a crime. A lack of federal law results in law enforcement and prosecutors having to rely on a patchwork of state regulations to crack down on criminal networks that makes prosecutions difficult and convictions nearly impossible.

Senator Gillibrand is committed to stopping the illegal flow of guns into New York and across the country, and to providing law enforcement and prosecutors with the tools they need to crack down on the iron pipeline and prevent gun violence.

Senator Gillibrand’s Gun Trafficking and Crime Prevention Act addresses gun trafficking at every level by making it illegal to traffic or assist in the trafficking of a firearm, making it unlawful to deliver or receive two or more firearms where the individual knows or has reason to believe that the firearms are being, or will be, used in a felony.  By going after straw-purchasers who buy a gun for someone else to help them evade required recordkeeping and background checks, corrupt gun dealers who sell firearms to traffickers, and persons who conspire with and organize gun trafficking rings, this legislation addresses firearms trafficking at every point of the chain.

The Gun Trafficking and Crime Prevention Act establishes stiff penalties that are a much-needed deterrent to gun trafficking.  Under the bill, traffickers and individuals who engage in a conspiracy to traffic a gun, could face up to twenty years in prison and be fined a significant sum of money.  It also provides greater penalties for kingpins who organize gun trafficking rings, subjecting them to an additional sentence of potentially five consecutive years in prison.

By creating more options and providing flexibility for prosecutors and judges, we increase the tools that are available for the federal criminal justice system to appropriately crack down on individuals who are engaged in every aspect of gun trafficking.

Protecting Victims of Domestic Abuse from Gun Violence

Domestic abuse and violence affect more than 12 million men and women across the United States each year. This abuse is five times more likely to result in murder if it takes place in a household where a firearm is present.

Current federal law protects domestic violence victims from gun violence only after a court issues a permanent restraining order. The most dangerous period for a victim is in between when they leave their abuser and when they are granted a permanent restraining order. During this time of heightened anger, an abuser is free to keep their firearms or purchase a new gun, leaving victims unprotected exactly when they are in the most danger.

Senator Gillibrand supports closing the temporary restraining order loophole by preventing individuals subject to a temporary restraining order from purchasing or possessing a firearm for the duration of the temporary restraining order, and also supports closing the dating violence loophole by expanding the definition of intimate partner to include a current or former dating partner.

Preventing Criminals from Obtaining Gun Silencers

Senator Gillibrand strongly opposes efforts to eliminate gun silencers from the requirements of the National Firearms Act.

Under current law, gun silencers can be obtained through the ATF only after an individual undergoes a thorough background check process and registers the silencer with federal law enforcement. These requirements have ensured that silencers are rarely used in crimes.

Silencers reduce the sound of a gun being fired, making it less likely that bystanders will report the sound of gunshots, thereby impeding law enforcement’s ability to respond quickly. If restrictions around the purchasing of silencers is lifted, it may become easier for those who can’t pass a background check to obtain these masking accessories through unregulated sales at gun shows and on the internet. This will make it easier for criminals to obtain these accessories, and make it harder for law enforcement to catch criminals.

Lifting restrictions around silencers would also diminish the effectiveness of crime fighting and anti-terror acoustic technology systems, such as ShotSpotter. These systems are now deployed in nearly 100 cities nationwide, including New York City, and provide law enforcement with real-time alerts to illegal gunfire enabling them to more safely respond to and investigate gun crimes.

Gun silencers make the job of law enforcement much harder.  Senator Gillibrand is committed to ensuring that Congress does not pass any laws that would make it easier for criminals to obtain these dangerous gun accessories.

Closing the Background Check Loophole

Only 60 percent of all gun sales in the United States occur after completion of a full background check. The remaining 40 percent of guns sales are conducted without a background check, and there is no federal record of who the firearm is sold to.

Currently, an individual purchasing a firearm online, at a gun show, or through a private seller is not required to undergo a federal background check, and federally licensed firearms dealers are allowed to proceed with a firearm sale to an individual if their submitted background check has not been completed within three business days. This loophole makes it easier for dangerous individuals to obtain firearms.

Senator Gillibrand supports universal background checks for every gun sale regardless of where the sale takes place and does not believe that sellers should be able to proceed with a sale without a completed background check. Background checks are a common sense way to decrease gun violence and ensure that firearms do not get into the hands of those who are prohibited from having them.

Protecting New Yorkers from National Concealed Carry

Senator Gillibrand does not support efforts to allow people to carry a loaded concealed gun across state lines, even if that person is permitted to conceal carry a firearm in their own state.

A national concealed carry law would undercut individual state laws and leave many states, like New York, at the mercy of whichever state in the nation has the weakest gun laws.  Allowing many citizens to concealed carry also makes it difficult for law enforcement to do their job by putting officers in the position of having to check with other states to determine if the out-of-towner is legally allowed to carry a concealed weapon in their home state.

Senator Gillibrand believes that each state should be able to make their own decisions about who can legally carry a concealed weapon, and believes that a national concealed carry law would compromise public safety, making our country and communities less safe and more susceptible to gun violence.