Kirk, Durbin, Bipartisan Group of Senators Announce Agreement on Legislation to Combat Gun Trafficking and Straw Purchases

Section of bill to be named after Hadiya Pendleton; Judiciary Committee to Consider Bill Thursday

WASHINGTON–(ENEWSPF)–March 4, 2013.  Illinois’ two Senators, Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Dick Durbin (D-IL), along with Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), unveiled a new bill today to combat straw purchasing and gun trafficking. The negotiated bill will be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday.

The Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act of 2013 provides law enforcement officials with the tools they need to investigate and prosecute the all-too-common practices of gun trafficking and straw purchasing, where an individual buys a firearm for someone else who is prohibited from obtaining one on their own.  The measure combines legislation cracking down on straw purchasing that Senators Durbin and Leahy introduced earlier this year with an anti-trafficking bill introduced by Senators Kirk and Gillibrand.  With the additional input and support of Sen. Collins (R-ME), the bill strikes a balanced approach and would create the first specific prohibitions in federal law to deter and punish the dangerous practices of straw purchasing and trafficking of firearms. Currently, there is no federal law that defines either gun trafficking or straw purchasing as crimes.

“Too often families in Illinois and across the country lose loved ones from illegal gun violence,” said Senator Kirk. “One of my top priorities this year is to pass legislation that will dry up the supply of illegal weapons to dangerous drug gangs, like the Gangster Disciples and Vice Lords, who commit these senseless acts.  A portion of this new anti-illegal gun trafficking legislation is named after Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old who was shot and killed by gang gunfire in Chicago. For Hadiya and thousands of other victims, my hope is we can break through the gridlock here in Washington to actually get something done to save lives.” 

“Every year, 11, 000 Americans are murdered with guns – more deaths each year than all of the American lives lost in the 9/11 attacks and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.  Every single day, more than thirty people are murdered and nearly 200 more are shot, but survive.” Senator Durbin said. “We’ve reached a tipping point and Americans all across the country are now saying ‘enough.’ This bipartisan bill will crack down on the illegal trafficking of guns and impose strict punishments for straw purchasers.  It is a commonsense approach that will keep guns out of the hands of criminals and protect the rights of law abiding citizens.”

The bipartisan measure specifically prohibits the trafficking and straw purchase of firearms, with violators facing up to 15 years imprisonment or 25 years imprisonment if the defendant knew or had reasonable cause to believe that any firearm involved would be used to commit a crime of violence.  The bill also toughens penalties for those who possess firearms in violation of existing law or who sell firearms to those prohibited purchasers.  

Additionally, the bill expands existing trafficking law to make it a crime for an individual to smuggle firearms out of the United States. The Chicago Crime Commission reported that Chicago Police confiscate an average of 13,000 illegal weapons each year. A portion of the legislation is named after Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old who was shot and killed by gang gunfire in Chicago. There were 506 murders in the city in 2012.

Last month, Durbin chaired a hearing in his Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human rights on the Second Amendment and how proposals being considered in the Senate to reduce gun violence are both constitutional and common sense. Hadiya Pendleton’s family attended hearing.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will meet on Thursday to continue the consideration of legislation addressing gun violence. Leahy, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, announced that he will substitute the anti-trafficking legislation currently before the committee with the bipartisan legislation unveiled today.