Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today outlined her bipartisan bill to make gun trafficking a federal crime – part of a new push by lawmakers to pass federal gun safety laws. Gillibrand introduced the Hadiya Pendleton and Nyasia Pryear-Yard Gun Trafficking & Crime Prevention Act of 2015 in July with Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) to provide law enforcement with the tools needed to stop the flow of illegal guns and hold irresponsible gun dealers accountable. Currently, there is no federal law that defines gun trafficking as a crime.
Gillibrand has planned roundtable meetings on gun safety around the state, and will convene the first of those on Friday, October 9th, in Suffolk County, New Rochelle and Rochester, to hear from law enforcement, community members and advocates.
Senator Gillibrand’s remarks as prepared for delivery are copied below, and video is available here.
“Mr. President, I rise today to speak on the topic of gun violence.
“Time and again, we’ve heard calls in this chamber for tougher gun safety laws. We’ve debated ideas that have ultimately fallen short of passage. These were basic reforms that would better protect all Americans.
“And every time these proposals have failed, more of our communities have fallen victim to gun violence. There have been more vigils, more funerals, and more questions about how these tragedies keep happening.
“Today, lawmakers in Washington put forward a set of general principles to guide us as we work to stop the enormous amount of gun violence in our country.
“These principles include more thorough background checks, which the vast majority of Americans support.
“They include closing the various loopholes that make it so easy for criminals to buy guns.
“And they include cracking down on gun trafficking and making it a federal crime – a bipartisan bill I’ve introduced with Senator Kirk.
“The bill is called the Hadiya Pendleton and Nyasia Pryear-Yard Gun Trafficking and Crime Prevention Act of 2015.
“This bill is bipartisan. My main cosponsor is a Republican, because gun trafficking is recognized all around as a major source of fuel for American gun violence.
“Our bill would finally make gun trafficking a federal crime.
“It would give law enforcement tools to get illegal guns off the streets, and to prosecute those who traffic guns.
“Right now, there is no federal law that prevents someone from loading up his truck in Georgia, driving up I-95, and re-selling those guns in a parking lot in New York – to gang members and other dangerous people, who aren’t eligible to buy guns from licensed dealers, and so resort to illegal sales.
“These are the principles that should guide us. This is legislation that can save lives while protecting gun rights.
“I’ve said over and over and over again that nothing in Washington ever happens unless ordinary people come here and demand action.
“If you are a parent who has lost a child, we need to hear from you.
“If you are a member of law-enforcement, we need to hear from you about what has worked and what hasn’t, and what resources you need.
“If you are a law-abiding gun owner, we need to hear your ideas about preventing criminals from getting their hands on guns.
“If your life has been affected by gun violence, we need to hear your ideas to prevent other people from having to live through what you had to experience.
“The only way we are going to make our country safer from gun violence is with federal action.
“Right now, we are stuck with a patchwork of state and local laws, which makes it much harder for police to do their jobs and keep the rest of us safe.
“We urgently need federal gun safety reform.
“Month after month, year after year, illegal guns tear apart communities in New York and across our country.
“According to the latest federal data, there were 8,539 firearms recovered and traced in my home state in 2013, which is the most recent year for which we have data. And of those more than 8,500 guns, nearly 70 percent of them came from out of state.
“I can’t say this strongly enough: We have to make gun trafficking a federal crime.
“I yield the floor.”