Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY) and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill) introduced a bill this week that would create heavy penalties for anyone convicted of firearms trafficking.
The Hadiya Pendleton and Nyasia Pryear-Yard Gun Trafficking & Crime Prevention Act of 2015, named after two victims of senseless gang-related violence, would give local, state and federal authorities the power to prosecute gun traffickers and their criminal networks, including gangs, cartels and organized crime rings.
Key provisions include:
- Sell or otherwise transfer two or more firearms to someone whom the seller knows, or has reasonable cause to know, is prohibited by Federal, State or local laws from owning a firearm (e.g. felon, convicted domestic abuser).
- Purchase or otherwise acquire two or more firearms if the recipient knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, that such receipt would be in violation of any Federal, State, or local law (e.g. if the recipient is a prohibited owner).
- Provide false information on a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives firearms transaction record form
- Knowingly facilitate the above actions.
The bill establishes harsh penalties, including a maximum prison penalty of 20 years for the above infractions. The penalty is further increased by five years for the organizer(s) of the trafficking ring and conspirators face a maximum penalty of 20 years. The legislation also calls upon the Sentencing Commission to substantially increase the penalties for trafficking when committed by or in concert with members of gangs, cartels, organized crime rings or other criminal enterprises.
“I am proud to work with Senator Kirk who shares my commitment to cracking down on gun trafficking to keep illegal guns off our streets,” said Senator Gillibrand.
“I am not willing to throw my hands in the air and say nothing can be done while lives are being senselessly lost due to weapons being in the hands of criminals,” she continued. “We all have a moral obligation to make our voices heard and say enough is enough. The absence of any federal law defining gun trafficking as a crime in this country is shocking. Cracking down on gun trafficking and keeping illegal guns off our streets should not be a Republican or Democratic issue because it is just common sense.”
Likewise, Sen. Kirk echoed the problem with gun trafficking.
“The trafficking of guns have led to more than 1,300 shootings in Chicago this year,” said Senator Kirk. “In honor of Hadiya Pendleton, we owe it to future generations to put an end to the gun trafficking that plays a huge role in the senseless violence that is taking lives in Chicago and throughout the country every day.”
This is the second time Gillibrand has introduced a bill targeting gun trafficking. In 2013, a similar bill was considered in the Senate but fell two votes shy of overcoming a GOP-led filibuster.
Gillibrand talking about her 2013 trafficking bill: