Leahy & Collins Unveil Bipartisan Legislation to Combat Illegal Straw Purchasing and Firearms Trafficking
WASHINGTON (THURSDAY, Feb. 11, 2016) – Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) introduced legislation on Thursday to combat the practice of straw purchasing and illegal trafficking in firearms.
The Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act of 2016 responds to calls from law enforcement officials for more effective tools to investigate and deter straw purchasers and gun traffickers.
Currently, there is no law that explicitly makes straw purchasing a crime, and it is only unlawful to traffic a firearm if the transferor had actual knowledge that the firearm would be used in connection with a crime. The recent terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California highlighted this gap; the rifles in that shooting were allegedly acquired through a straw purchaser. Firearms trafficking is also an increasingly significant problem in New England, where the surge in opioid abuse has exposed a “guns for drugs” trade.
The bipartisan bill introduced by Leahy and Collins today would make clear that the straw purchasing and trafficking of firearms are federal crimes.
“In Vermont and across the country, we have seen firearms serve as currency for illegal drugs. Addicts are at times directed to straw purchase firearms by dealers who could not pass a background check themselves,” Senator Leahy said. “It is time to take action – and only Congress can fill the gaps in our laws. Congress must not become so numb to tragedy after tragedy that we fail to fulfill our responsibility to legislate.”
“Our bill would provide law enforcement with an effective tool to fight the violence that too often goes hand in hand with drug trafficking,” said Senator Collins. “Straw purchasing and the trafficking of firearms put guns directly in the hands of drug dealers and violent criminals who smuggle heroin into Maine.”
The bill does not affect lawful purchases from federal firearms licensees, nor does it prohibit the innocent transfer of a firearm as a gift, or in relation to a legitimate raffle, auction or contest. The measure is supported by numerous law enforcement organizations, including the National Fraternal Order of Police, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Major Cities Chiefs Association, the National Tactical Officers Association, the National District Attorneys Association, and the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys.
A similar version of the Leahy-Collins legislation drew the support of a bipartisan majority of the Senate in 2013.
# # # # #
David Carle: 202-224-3693
Next Article Previous Article