03.23.21

Leahy, Collins And Durbin Reintroduce Bipartisan Bill To Combat Illegal Straw Purchasing And Firearms Trafficking

. . . . The Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act Would Help Keep Guns Out Of Criminals’ Hands

WASHINGTON (TUESDAY, March 23, 2021) – U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) this week introduced legislation to combat straw purchasing and illegal trafficking in firearms in order to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals.

The Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act of 2021 would, for the first time, make it an explicit federal crime to act as a straw purchaser of firearms.  The bill would also create penalties for anyone who transfers a firearm with reasonable cause to believe that it will be used in a drug crime, crime of violence, or act of terrorism.  These reforms would help keep guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals and reduce safety risks for law enforcement officers confronting criminals and criminal organizations.  

Leahy said:  “For years I’ve heard from many, many in law enforcement that the so-called ‘paperwork offenses’ used to prosecute straw purchasing and the weak firearms trafficking laws do little to prevent criminals from illegally obtaining firearms.  Congress must do more to stop straw purchasing, and the time to act is now.  Our bipartisan bill received 58 votes on the Senate Floor in 2013, more than any other gun safety bill at the time.  This commonsense bill with strong law enforcement support, is a great starting point in our legislative efforts to address the gun violence epidemic in our country.”

Collins said:  “Straw purchasing is intended to achieve one result: to put a gun in the hands of a criminal who cannot legally obtain one.  Today, traffickers, in particular, exploit weaknesses in federal law by targeting people who can lawfully purchase guns. Then, those traffickers use those guns to commit crimes or sell them to other criminals.  This practice also fuels the opioid epidemic that is taking a devastating toll on all of our communities.  Police officers in Maine tell me about the familiar patterns they see: drug dealers and gang members, often from out-of-state and with criminal records, cross into Maine and approach drug addicts to be their straw buyers in exchange for heroin.  Our bill will help keep guns out of the hands of criminals without infringing upon the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens.”

“Chicago and cities across the country are flooded with guns that have been illicitly trafficked into the area from states with weaker gun laws.  Oftentimes, these guns wind up in the hands of people who are legally barred from possessing one,” Durbin said.  “Our bill would crack down on this gun trafficking and straw purchasing and help increase safety in our communities.”

The Senators introduced this bipartisan measure ahead of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s gun violence hearing on Tuesday, March 23, 2021, entitled “Constitutional and Common Sense Steps to Reduce Gun Violence.” The bill does not affect lawful purchases from federal firearms licensees. The bill is supported by numerous law enforcement organizations, including the Fraternal Order of Police, Major Cities Chiefs Association, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, National Sheriffs’ Association, and the National District Attorneys Association.

Text of the bill is here

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