Press Release

Gillibrand Holds Roundtable Meeting on Gun Trafficking With Law Enforcement, Community Members, Discuss Bipartisan Bill to Crack Down on Flow of Illegal Guns

Oct 9, 2015

Central Islip, NY –U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone along with law enforcement, advocates, and community leaders today held a roundtable meeting and discussed bipartisan gun trafficking legislation aimed at cracking down on the daily flow of illegal guns on our nation’s streets. Gillibrand’s legislation the Hadiya Pendleton and Nyasia Pryear-Yard Gun Trafficking & Crime Prevention Act of 2015 would, for the first time, make gun trafficking a federal crime to provide tools to law enforcement to get illegal guns off the streets, away from criminal networks and street gangs, and to prosecute those who traffic firearms.

Currently, there is no federal law that defines gun trafficking as a crime. The Hadiya Pendleton and Nyasia Pryear-Yard Gun Trafficking & Crime Prevention Act of 2015 would also crack down on bad gun dealers. A news report this week highlighted the so-called “shop of death” in Georgia where illegal weapons used to kill three police officers originated from. In 2010, the same shop was named as the top source of illegal out-of-state guns in New York City. Senator Gillibrand has been working on gun trafficking legislation since 2009, and similar bipartisan legislation she introduced received 58 votes in the United States Senate in 2013 – just two votes shy of breaking a filibuster.

“I am proud to work with all the members of law enforcement, advocates, and community members who participated in today’s roundtable meeting and share the goal of cracking down on gun trafficking to keep illegal guns off our streets,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I am not willing to throw my hands in the air and say nothing can be done while lives are being senselessly lost due to weapons being in the hands of criminals. We all have a moral obligation to make our voices heard and say enough is enough. The absence of any federal law defining gun trafficking as a crime in this country is shocking. Cracking down on gun trafficking and keeping illegal guns off our streets should not be a Republican or Democratic issue because it is just common sense. By cracking down illegal gun traffickers and their vast criminal networks, we can stop the flow of illegal guns and save innocent lives.”

“This is common sense legislation which will help save lives by aiding law enforcement in stopping illegal gun trafficking,” said Suffolk County Executive Bellone. “I applaud Senator Gillibrand for her hard work to work with law enforcement, local communities and her colleagues on both sides of the aisle to advocate for common sense public safety solutions.”

“I applaud Senator Gillibrand’s legislative efforts to crack down on gun trafficking and close the existing loopholes that exist in the current law, which makes the selling and purchasing of illegal guns go unpunished,” stated Legislator Monica R. Martinez. “As a representative of the communities of Brentwood, Central Islip and North Bay Shore which have seen their share of victims fall due to gun violence, I support Senator Gillibrand’s work on this subject and I am ready to mobilize my community to make sure Washington hears our voice and acts on it.”

“Without strong federal gun laws, New York will remain vulnerable to the incessant flow of illegal guns that end up killing and maiming our citizens,” said Leah Gunn Barrett, Executive Director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence. “Current federal gun trafficking laws are weak and don’t deter or punish illegal trafficking. In fact, someone who traffics guns receives the same punishment as someone who traffics chickens or other livestock.  We know that 90% of crime guns recovered on the streets of New York City and 68% statewide come from weak gun law states like Virginia and Georgia. Senator Gillibrand’s bill would tackle firearms trafficking by going after straw purchasers, dishonest gun dealers who knowingly sell firearms to traffickers and those who run trafficking rings. In addition, the ATF needs more funding and the resources to do their job in shutting down the 5% of rogue dealers who sell 90% of the crime guns.”

“Gun violence takes a terrible, ongoing toll on our country as a whole and calls for federal legislation,” said Janina Bandi, New York State Chapter Leader for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “Weak gun laws in any state endanger communities everywhere. New York State is a prime example of this, where we see traffickers bring guns into the state that criminals ultimately use to do harm to our fellow citizens and law enforcement officers.  Research shows that 90 percent of the crime guns recovered at New York City crime scenes originated outside the state. Our good state gun laws can’t stop guns coming across our borders, and we need legislation like Sen Gillibrand’s to fight traffickers and keep our neighbors and first responders safe.”

Key Provisions of the Trafficking & Crime Prevention Act of 2015

The Hadiya Pendleton and Nyasia Pryear-Yard Gun Trafficking & Crime Prevention Act of 2015 would empower local, state, and federal law enforcement to investigate and prosecute gun traffickers and their entire criminal networks, including gangs, cartels and organized crime rings. Specifically the bill will make it illegal to:

  • Sell or otherwise transfer two or more firearms to someone whom the seller knows, or has reasonable cause to know, is prohibited by Federal, State or local laws from owning a firearm (e.g. felon, convicted domestic abuser).
  • Purchase or otherwise acquire two or more firearms if the recipient knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, that such receipt would be in violation of any Federal, State, or local law (e.g. if the recipient is a prohibited owner).
  • Provide false information on a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives firearms transaction record form
  • Knowingly facilitate the above actions.

The bill establishes harsh penalties, including a maximum prison penalty of 20 years for the above infractions.  The penalty is further increased by five years for the organizer(s) of the trafficking ring and conspirators face a maximum penalty of 20 years. The legislation also calls upon the Sentencing Commission to substantially increase the penalties for trafficking when committed by or in concert with members of gangs, cartels, organized crime rings or other criminal enterprises.

The following groups have endorsed the Hadiya Pendleton and Nyasia Pryear-Yard Gun Trafficking and Crime Prevention Act of 2015: Everytown for Gun Safety, Third Way, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence united with the Million Mom March, Americans for Responsible Solutions, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence and Harlem Mothers Save.