03.07.13

SJC Approves Bipartisan Legislation to Combat Gun Trafficking Authored By Chairman Leahy

. . . Measure To Outlaw Straw Purchasing and Gun Trafficking Has Bipartisan Support

WASHINGTON  -- The Senate Judiciary Committee, on a bipartisan vote, Thursday approved legislation authored by Chairman Patrick Leahy and coauthored by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) that would for the first time explicitly make illegal the abusive practice of straw purchasing and trafficking of firearms.  The committee vote is the first legislative vote on measures related to gun violence in either the Senate or the House since the Newtown tragedy, and it comes amid a markup session scheduled by Leahy on four gun-related bills, including the Leahy-Collins Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act.  

The bill goes after gun traffickers and closes a gaping loophole to background checks by also penalizing straw purchasers, who buy firearms for another person who is prohibited from obtaining one on his own

“The practice of straw purchasing firearms is undertaken for one reason—to get a gun into the hands of someone who is prohibited from having one,” Leahy said at the Committee’s executive business meeting.  “We know that many guns used in criminal activities are acquired through straw purchases.   We need a meaningful solution to this serious problem.” 

The legislation is cosponsored by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Sen. Angus King (I-Maine). Additionally, the measure is endorsed by multiple law enforcement groups including the Fraternal Order of Police, the National District Attorneys Association, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association and the Major Cities Chiefs Association. Leahy first introduced gun trafficking legislation in January, and announced a major bipartisan agreement on the issue Monday. The Judiciary Committee approved the bill by a vote of 11-7, with all Democrats and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the committee’s ranking member, voting in favor.

“Law enforcement officials have consistently called for a firearms trafficking statute that can be effective to go after straw purchasers,” Leahy said.  “What we need to do now is to create better law enforcement tools.  I urge all Senators to join with us to close a dangerous loophole in the law that Mexican drug cartels, gangs and other criminals have exploited for too long.” 

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