Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) unveiled on Monday a new bill to combat straw purchasing and gun trafficking that will be considered by the Judiciary Committee later this week.
The Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act of 2013 provides law enforcement officials with the tools they need to investigate and prosecute the all-too-common practices of gun trafficking and straw purchasing, where an individual buys a firearm for someone else who is prohibited from obtaining one on their own. The measure combines legislation Leahy introduced at the beginning of the 113th Congress with Sen. Durbin, and a separate anti-trafficking bill Sen. Gillibrand and Sen. Kirk introduced earlier this year. With the additional input and support of Sen. Collins, the bill strikes a balanced approach and for the first time will create specific prohibitions to deter and punish the dangerous practices of straw purchasing and trafficking of firearms. Currently, there is no federal law that defines either gun trafficking or straw purchasing as crimes.
“The absence of any federal law defining gun trafficking as a crime in this country is shocking,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Over the last couple of weeks we have had many constructive meetings discussing how to best give law enforcement the tools they need to keep illegal guns off the streets and out of the hands of dangerous people. I am pleased that we have reached a bipartisan consensus on a path forward that we expect to reach broad bipartisan support. Cracking down on gun trafficking and keeping illegal guns off our streets to save lives is not a Republican or Democratic idea, it is just a good idea. By cracking down on straw purchasers, illegal gun traffickers and their vast criminal networks, we can stop the flow of illegal guns and reduce gun crime. I look forward to working with all of our colleagues on both side of the aisle to pass this important piece of legislation.”
The bipartisan measure specifically prohibits the trafficking and straw purchase of firearms and strengthens the law prohibiting material false statements when purchasing a firearm. The bill establishes tough penalties for anyone who purchases a firearm or ammunition with the intent to transfer it to someone else, particularly in cases involving crimes of violence or drug trafficking, and expands existing trafficking law to make it a crime for an individual to smuggle firearms out of the United States.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will meet on Thursday to continue the consideration of legislation addressing gun violence. Leahy announced that he will substitute the anti-trafficking legislation currently before the committee with the bipartisan legislation unveiled today.