In the wake of persistent gun violence in Syracuse, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand was joined by Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh to announce her plans to reintroduce the Hadiya Pendleton and Nyasia Pryear-Yard Gun Trafficking & Crime Prevention Act. Fully 60% of guns in Syracuse that are connected to a crime and recovered by law enforcement are trafficked from out of state, many along the Iron Pipeline up I-95. The bill is named for two teenage girls who were victims of gun violence in Brooklyn and Chicago, IL and seeks to address the illegal transfer of guns across state lines by establishing gun trafficking as a federal crime. The bill would provide law enforcement and prosecutors with the tools to go after those directly involved in the illegal movement of guns across state lines, gun dealers acting illegally, individuals who organize the gun trafficking rings and those who conspire to traffic guns.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, there are more than 400,000 gun crimes committed resulting in about 14,000 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, which 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. The introduction of the legislation comes as shooting incidents in Syracuse this year have outpaced the recent average, causing 13 deaths by gun violence so far in 2021, which has been driven in part by the proliferation of illegal handguns.
“The continued gun violence in Syracuse is alarming—we must work hand in glove across federal, state and local government to pass commonsense gun reform, and to get illegally trafficked guns off our streets. But right now, there’s no federal law that defines gun trafficking across state lines as a crime. We must change that and make gun trafficking a federal crime so that we can keep these illegal guns off our streets and out of the hands of those who would not be allowed to buy them legally,” said Senator Gillibrand. “That is why I plan to reintroduce the Hadiya Pendleton and Nyasia Pryear-Yard Gun Trafficking & Crime Prevention Act. This is commonsense legislation and I look forward to working together to keep all of our children and families safe.”
The Hadiya Pendleton and Nyasia Pryear-Yard Gun Trafficking & Crime Prevention Act would amend the federal criminal code to make trafficking in firearms a federal crime and establish fines and penalties for those who knowingly ship, transport or transfer firearms 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.