A bipartisan gun trafficking bill was announced by senators on Monday. The bill would make straw purchasing firearms and trafficking them a federal crime.
The bill would also make smuggling arms out of the United States a federal crime. It was crafted by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Mark Kirk (R-IL), and Susan Collins (R-ME).
Leahy, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, stated that the bill would require tough penalties for people who buy a firearm or ammunition with the intent to transfer it to someone else, reports Fox News.
There is no current federal law that defines either gun trafficking or straw purchases as crimes. Gillibrand stated of the bill:
“The absence of any federal law defining gun trafficking as a crime in this country is shocking.”
The Judiciary Committee has worked in the lead in considering the issue of gun violence since the school shooting in December in Newtown, Connecticut. The shooting shocked the nation and propelled the gun debate into the national spotlight for months.
The Washington Post notes that the bipartisan gun trafficking bill combines elements of two opposing measures. One by Leahy included punishments for purchasers, while another bill would punish whoever sells the weapon to a straw purchaser. Leahy explained the reason for a straw purchasing bill, saying:
“The practice of straw purchasing is used for one thing — to put firearms into the hands of those that are prohibited by law from having them. Many are then used to further violent crimes.”
The legislation would contain exemptions if the gun’s transfer is a gift or in relation to a legitimate contest or raffle. It is aimed to cover the purchases where there is a “reasonable cause to believe” the firearm will be used in a crime.
The bipartisan gun trafficking bill will be introduced into the Judiciary Committee on Thursday as part of a package of four bills that are aimed at reducing gun violence. The other bills include regulation of assault weapons, enhancing school safety, and requiring background checks for all firearm sales.
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