Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY-12) stood in New York City to call for the passage of the Hadiya Pendleton and Nyasia Pryear-Yard Gun Trafficking and Crime Prevention Act. They were joined by Everytown for Gun Safety Senior Counsel Samuel Levy and Jennifer Pryear, mother to Nyasia Pryear-Yard. Nyasia tragically lost her life at 17 years old when she was shot by a perpetrator using an illegally trafficked gun in Brooklyn. This bill would address the illegal transfer of guns across state lines by establishing gun trafficking as a federal crime. It also sets strict penalties for those directly involved in the illegal movement of guns across state lines, those who organize the gun trafficking rings, and those who facilitate trafficking through the sale or delivery of firearms.
“I want to thank Jennifer Pryear for standing here with us today and for her relentless courage in this fight. When Jennifer and I met in 2009 she told me about Nyasia, her young, brilliant daughter who tragically lost her life to gun violence,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Nyasia should be here with us today, and Congress has a duty to prevent more senseless tragedies. It’s time to make gun trafficking a federal crime to stop the flow of illegal guns in our state and to save innocent lives.”
“For years, law enforcement has been asking Congress to make gun trafficking a federal offense and to impose harsher penalties on straw purchasers who buy guns for those who are not allowed to buy guns on their own,” said Representative Carolyn Maloney. “Similarly, communities that have been shattered by the gun violence epidemic have called on Congress to put an end to gun trafficking that fuels deadly operations like the Iron Pipeline that pump weapons of death into our cities. The Hadiya Pendleton and Nyasia Pryear-Yard Gun Trafficking and Crime Prevention Act answers those calls, and treats gun trafficking and straw purchases as the dangerous crimes they are in order to prevent more senseless gun violence.”
“Increases in gun violence and other violent crimes are being felt across the nation, but in New York we are leading the way to address the problem head on,” Governor Hochul said. “Illegal guns are finding their way across state boarders and taking the lives of innocent New Yorkers and we must put an end to it. I commend Senator Gillibrand for her proactive efforts to get to the root of this gun violence epidemic and I pledge to provide any support I can in our fight toward meaningful change.”
“My daughter, Nyasia, was an honor student with a bright future ahead of her when she lost her life to senseless gun violence. We need to do so much more to prevent gun violence and make sure what happened to Nyasia will never again happen in New York. This bill would help stop illegal guns from entering our communities in the first place. Senator Gillibrand and Representative Maloney have been fighting for this bill for more than a decade and it’s time for Congress to act,” said Jennifer Pryear, mother to Nyasia Pryear-Yard.
“This bill will give federal law enforcement the tools they need to hold gun traffickers accountable for flooding our streets with illegal guns,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “Senator Gillibrand is leading the effort to dismantle the deadly Iron Pipeline that carries trafficked guns into New York, and the Senate should get on board and pass this bill without delay.”
“States with strong gun laws are continuing to be undermined and flooded by illegal guns from states with weak gun laws,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “That’s why our grassroots army of volunteers is proud to stand in strong support of Senator Gillibrand’s legislation to crack down on gun trafficking.”
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, there are more than 350,000 gun crimes committed resulting in more than 19,000 homicides each year. 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. The introduction of the legislation comes as shooting incidents have spiked by 24 percent in New York City this year to date, driven in part by the proliferation of illegal handguns.
The Hadiya Pendleton and Nyasia Pryear-Yard Gun Trafficking and Crime Prevention Act would make trafficking in firearms a federal crime and establish penalties for those who knowingly ship, transport or transfer firearms across state lines to an individual not legally allowed to possess a gun. This bill would also go after individuals who act as organizers of gun trafficking operations and those who sell or deal trafficked firearms.
Specifically, the Hadiya Pendleton and Nyasia Pryear-Yard Gun Trafficking and Crime Prevention Act would:
Amend the Federal Criminal Code to make trafficking in firearms a federal crime.
· Makes it unlawful to ship, transport or transfer across state lines 2 or more firearms if the transferor knows or has reasonable cause to believe that the recipient would use them illegally.
· Makes it unlawful to receive 2 or more firearms across state lines if the recipient knows or has reasonable cause to believe that receipt is illegal.
· Individuals who engage in gun trafficking can face up to 20 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine.
Stricter penalties for those who organize gun trafficking rings.
· Organizers of trafficking rings – those who coordinate with 5 or more individuals – who plan or recruit or direct someone to engage in trafficking of guns can face up to 25 years in prison or 35 years for machine guns or if the gun has a firearm silencer or muffler.
Makes facilitation of trafficking through sale or delivery of firearms subject to criminal and civil penalties.
· Licensed manufacturers, importers, collectors, or dealers who knowingly facilitate gun trafficking are subject to 10 years in prison and a fine of $20,000 per trafficked gun sold; those who recklessly disregard that a person is acquiring 2 or more guns in violation of, or with intent to, engage in gun trafficking are subject to civil penalties between $5,000 and $10,000 per gun; and those who violate the law could have their license suspended.
Gillibrand’s legislation is endorsed by Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action.