5:16 pm Mar. 4, 20131
The anti-gun trafficking bill being pushed by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand will now be part of a more expansive piece of legislation championed by Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy.
The new bill would make gun trafficking a federal crime for the first time, according to the Washington Post, along with 20 year penalties for straw purchasers, and for those who sell guns to such purchasers.
"The absence of any federal law defining gun trafficking as a crime in this country is shocking,” Gillibrand said in a statement. “Over the last couple of weeks we have had many constructive meetings discussing how to best give law enforcement the tools they need to keep illegal guns off the streets and out of the hands of dangerous people. I am pleased that we have reached a bipartisan consensus on a path forward that we expect to reach broad bipartisan support."
Leahy had been working on his own proposals, but combining with Gillibrand's bill, which was also co-sponsored by Illinois Republican Mark Kirk, gives him some bipartisan bona fides. And Gillibrand gets the added heft of the Judiciary chairman, who will have considerable sway over which gun measures move through the Senate. The committee is scheduled to meet Thursday to discuss to consider gun legislation.
Gillibrand first introduced her anti-trafficking bill shortly after she was elevated to the Senate in 2009, and her office has made it a priority in the months since the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. She lobbied aggressively to ensure it was included in President Obama's gun control recommendations, and has been meeting with senators on both sides of the aisle in recent weeks in the hopes of drumming up more co-sponsors.
The new joint bill was joined by Democrats Dick Durbin and Richard Blumenthal, and Republican Susan Collins, according to the Post.
"Cracking down on gun trafficking and keeping illegal guns off our streets to save lives is not a Republican or Democratic idea, it is just a good idea," Gillibrand said in her statement. "By cracking down on straw purchasers, illegal gun traffickers and their vast criminal networks, we can stop the flow of illegal guns and reduce gun crime. I look forward to working with all of our colleagues on both side of the aisle to pass this important piece of legislation.”
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