Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand held a video press conference to highlight that the centerpiece of the Hadiya Pendleton and Nyasia Pryear-Yard Gun Trafficking and Crime Prevention Act was included in the bipartisan gun reform package announced over the weekend. Reintroduced earlier this Congress, Gillibrand’s 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. The recently announced bipartisan deal would implement similar provisions and establish the first federal criminal offenses for gun trafficking, a change Senator Gillibrand has been calling for since 2009.
Over the weekend, a bipartisan group of senators, including 10 Republicans, announced a gun safety framework including investments in mental health care, federal funding to encourage the passage of state red flag laws, enhanced background checks, and a provision to close the boyfriend loophole. The framework would also establish a federal law against gun trafficking – the core of Senator Gillibrand’s Hadiya Pendleton and Nyasia Pryear-Yard Gun Trafficking and Crime Prevention Act. Full bill text of the gun safety framework is expected this week.
“After nearly a decade of fighting for gun reform Congress has taken a promising step toward tackling the gun violence epidemic plaguing our nation. For far too long, we have been the only country in the world that tolerates mass shootings at our schools, stores and places of worship. The American people have demanded that we act to stop these senseless killings, and Congress is finally answering the call,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I’m extremely proud that the centerpiece of my bill, the Hadiya Pendleton and Nyasia Pryear-Yard Gun Trafficking and Crime Prevention Act, was included in the framework. Nearly 75% of guns used in crime in New York are trafficked from out of state, many along the Iron Pipeline up I-95. With this new framework, trafficking firearms will become a federal crime, helping to stop the flow of illegal guns in our country and, hopefully, to save countless innocent lives.”
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. In New York State alone, nearly 75% of guns connected to crime and recovered by law enforcement are trafficked from out of state, many along the Iron Pipeline. 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.
Senator Gillibrand’s gun trafficking bill is named for Hadiya Pendleton and Nyasia Pryear-Yard. In 2013, Hadiya, a 15-year-old student at King College Prep in Chicago, was killed when shots were fired into a crowd with the intention of hitting a rival gang member. One of the men charged in her slaying was arrested in January 2011 on a gun charge, but received probation after pleading guilty to unlawful use of a weapon. In 2009, Nyasia tragically lost her life at 17 years old when she was shot by a perpetrator using an illegally trafficked gun in Brooklyn. That same year, Gillibrand authored and first introduced the Gun Trafficking Prevention Act in the U.S. Senate. The measure has been reintroduced every Congress ever since, most recently as the Hadiya Pendleton and Nyasia Pryear-Yard Gun Trafficking and Crime Prevention Act.
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.
- Enact stricter penalties for those who organize gun trafficking rings.
- Make facilitation of trafficking through sale or delivery of firearms subject to criminal and civil penalties.
Gillibrand’s legislation is endorsed by Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action.