A bipartisan group of senators announced Monday a deal on legislation that would for the first time create specific federal prohibitions on gun trafficking and the straw purchasing of firearms.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., told the Senate the bill would establish tough penalties for those who buy a firearm or ammunition with the intent of transferring it to someone else. The measure also would make it a crime to smuggle firearms out of the United States.
“The practice of straw purchasing is used for one thing — to put firearms into the hands of those that are prohibited by law from having them,” Leahy said. “Many are then used to further violent crimes.”
The bill was crafted by Leahy, two other Democrats and two Republicans and will be part of a package of four gun control measures that will be considered Thursday by the Judiciary Committee.
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An anti-gun trafficking bill sponsored by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Mark Kirk, R-Ill., is being folded into Leahy’s bill, Capital New York reports.
"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."
“It’s entirely targeted to criminals and the criminal sale and the criminal networks,” and thus something moderates wary of new gun laws should be able to support, Gillibrand told The Washington Post.
In addition to Leahy, Gillibrand and Kirk, the bill is co-sponsored by Sens. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, who has not previously signed on to gun control legislation. Other Republicans also may sign on to the plan, the senators told the Washington Post.
The Judiciary Committee will hold a markup Thursday in which Leahy’s measure will be considered, along with an assault weapons ban amendment to be offered by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Politico reports.
The gun trafficking agreement comes as another group of senators — Kirk, Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., and Tom Coburn, R-Okla. — continues negotiating details of a bill to expand the national gun background check program. Coburn is objecting to mandatory record-keeping for private firearms sales, according to aides familiar with the talks.