06.21.16

Leahy Urges Senators To Support Amendment That Gives Law Enforcement Meaningful Resources To Prevent Terrorism

Leahy Urges Senators To Support Amendment That Gives Law Enforcement Meaningful Resources To Prevent Terrorism

WASHINGTON (Tuesday, June 21, 2016) – Senate Republicans who blocked sensible gun safety measures this week are now pushing an unnecessary and overly broad surveillance measure involving innocent Americans’ Internet activities. Instead of trying to change the subject away from the gun debate, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) urged Senators Tuesday to support his common sense amendment to add critical resources for law enforcement to combat terrorism.

An amendment filed by Leahy and Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), to the Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bill includes an important provision that will help law enforcement investigate and prosecute gun traffickers who transfer guns to terrorists and criminals. This provision is drawn from Leahy’s bipartisan Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act, and responds to calls from law enforcement officials for more effective tools to investigate and deter gun traffickers and straw purchasers.

“Let’s be clear about what we need to stay safe. We should strengthen our laws to make it easier to prosecute firearms traffickers and straw purchasers who put guns in the hands of terrorists and criminals. And we need to fund the FBI and the Justice Department so they have the resources they need to combat acts of terrorism and hate,” Leahy said. “Those are the elements of the amendment we have filed – and those are among the actions that Congress could take to protect this country.”

He added: “We want to do something that is actually responsive to the recent terrorist attacks we have seen in Orlando, Charleston, San Bernardino, and too many other places. By ensuring our law enforcement has the resources it needs, we can take an important step in the right direction.”

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. Last year’s terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California highlighted this gap; the rifles in that shooting were allegedly acquired through a straw purchaser.

Leahy’s broader bipartisan Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act 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.

Senator Leahy’s full statement is available online.

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