Washington, DC – As Congress takes up legislation to strengthen the nation’s gun control laws, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today reintroduced her bill to crack down on the flow of illegal guns on our nation’s streets. Gillibrand’s bill, the Hadiya Pendleton and Nyasia Pryear-Yard Gun Trafficking & Crime Prevention Act of 2019, would establish gun trafficking as a federal crime and provide law enforcement officials with the tools they need to get illegal guns off the streets and away from criminal networks and street gangs, and to prosecute those who traffic firearms. Currently, there is no law at the federal level that defines gun trafficking across state lines as a crime. This 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, making prosecutions difficult and convictions nearly impossible.
“Gun violence has caused a crisis in our country, and Congress needs to act now to prevent more senseless tragedies,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Today, I am reintroducing my bill to finally make gun trafficking a federal crime. People who aren’t allowed to purchase a gun in New York shouldn’t be able to buy all the weapons they want in another state and then shuttle them back into New York to sell out of their trunk. By cracking down on gun trafficking, we can help stop the flow of illegal guns and save innocent lives. It’s promising that the national debate on gun violence has now turned into action in the House. The Senate must follow their lead and finally pass meaningful gun reform for this country.”
“Every year, illegal firearms flow from regions with lax gun laws into the states that have passed responsible, commonsense laws to protect their residents from gun violence,” said Lanae Erickson, Senior Vice President for Social Policy & Politics at Third Way. “And yet under current law, the straw purchasers and gun traffickers responsible for this crisis rarely face justice, because law enforcement lacks the tools needed to hold them accountable. Senator Gillibrand’s bipartisan bill is a much-needed solution that would help keep dangerous weapons off our streets and out of the hands of those who cannot buy them in the legal market. There is simply no good reason a person can traffic firearms across state lines and then sell them with near impunity from the federal justice system.”
Earlier this week, the Senate Judiciary Committee announced it would be holding a hearing on gun control legislation later this month. Last week, the House of Representatives passed two bills to significantly strengthen the nation’s gun control laws. The first, a universal background check bill, closes the loophole that allows private sellers, gun show sellers, and internet sellers to sell or gift a firearm without a background check. The House also voted to close the “Charleston Loophole,” which allows a gun sale to proceed if the FBI has not completed a background check within three days. The bill extends the background check review period from three days to ten days.
Senator Gillibrand has been working on passing gun trafficking legislation since 2009. In 2013, similar bipartisan legislation received 58 votes in the United States Senate – just two votes shy of breaking a filibuster.
The Hadiya Pendleton and Nyasia Pryear-Yard Gun Trafficking & Crime Prevention Act of 2019 is named after two teenage girls who were victims of gun violence and were killed by trafficked guns. Hadiya Pendleton was from Chicago, IL, and Nyasia Pryear-Yard was from Brooklyn, NY.
Specifically, the Hadiya Pendleton and Nyasia Pryear-Yard Gun Trafficking & Crime Prevention Act of 2019 would do the following:
- Amend the Federal Criminal Code to make trafficking in firearms a federal crime: This would make it unlawful to ship or receive two or more firearms where the individual knows or has reason to believe the firearms were unlawfully obtained.
- Address firearms trafficking at each stage: This legislation would penalize purchasers who buy two or more guns with the intent to illegally transfer them to a person prohibited from possessing a firearm, gun dealers who illegally sell firearms to traffickers, and individuals who conspire with and organize gun trafficking rings.
- Establish stiff penalties to deter gun trafficking: Traffickers could face up to 20 years in prison and be fined up to $250,000 under Title 18, of the federal criminal code.
- Create new penalties for a gun trafficker acting in concert with five or more other people where the trafficker is an organizer, has a supervisory position, or has any other position of management: Under the new penalties, an individual may be sentenced to an additional term of imprisonment of up to five consecutive years.
Gillibrand’s legislation is endorsed by Third Way, Everytown for Gun Safety, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, Giffords, and Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.