U.S. senators Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Mark Kirk, R-Ill., will introduce their bipartisan gun trafficking legislation Wednesday to crack down on the daily flow of illegal guns on our nation’s streets.
The Gillibrand-Kirk Gun Trafficking Prevention Act of 2013 will for the first time make gun trafficking a federal crime to provide tools to law enforcement to get illegal guns off the streets and away from criminal networks and street gangs. This is the first bipartisan gun safety measure introduced this Congress. Senator Gillibrand has been working on gun trafficking legislation since 2009. Currently, there is no federal law that defines gun trafficking as a crime.
“I am proud to work with Senator Kirk who shares my commitment to cracking down on gun trafficking to keep illegal guns off our streets. Our bipartisan bill will save lives, it is not a Republican or Democratic idea, it is just the right idea,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The absence of any federal law defining gun trafficking in this country is shocking. It is time to give law enforcement the tools they need to keep illegal guns off the streets and out of the hands of dangerous people. By cracking down on illegal gun traffickers and their vast criminal networks, we can stop the flow of illegal guns and reduce gun violence. I look forward to working with all of our colleagues on both side of the aisle to pass this important piece of legislation.”
“Gun trafficking is allowing gangs and violence to flourish in Chicago,” said Senator Kirk. “The Chicago Crime Commission reported that Chicago Police confiscate an average of 13,000 illegal weapons each year. Last summer, gang violence killed 500 men, women and children in Chicago. We must put a stop to this cycle, which is why I have joined with Senator Gillibrand to take serious action to prevent straw purchases and ensure that law enforcement has the tools it needs to crack down on illegal weapons trafficking.”
Every day, illegal guns are flowing into cities around the country and used by gangs and other criminal organizations to terrorize our communities. In New York City, 85% of the guns used in gun crimes come from out of state, and 90% of these guns are estimated to be illegal. Yet while law enforcement agencies work overtime to track down these weapons, there is no federal law that enables law enforcement to investigate and prosecute those who traffic these firearms. None of our laws are directly focused on preventing someone from one state to drive to another state with stricter gun laws, park their car in a parking lot, and sell hundreds of firearms out of the back of their trunk to criminals.
In 2009, just ten states supplied nearly half – 49% – of the guns that crossed state lines before being recovered in crimes. Together, these states accounted for nearly 21,000 interstate crime guns recovered.
Over the past three fiscal years, more than 330,000 guns used in violent gun crimes showed telltale signs of black market trafficking; 420,000 firearms were stolen; and thousands of guns with obliterated serial numbers were recovered by law enforcement. The horrific shooting of first responders in Webster, New York last month involved the use of a straw purchaser.
The Gun Trafficking Prevention Act of 2013 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 2 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 2 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 (e.g. straw purchasing).
• Knowingly facilitate the above actions.
• Exceptions are made for gifts and inheritances, so long as the giver and recipient are not prohibited by federal, state or local law from owning a firearm.
The bill establishes harsh penalties, including a maximum prison penalty of 20 years for the above infractions. The penalty is further increased by 5 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.