U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, last evening joined the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) in introducing legislation that aims to combat the practice of "straw purchasing" and illegal trafficking in firearms.
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 practice of straw purchasing, where an individual with a clean background buys a gun for someone who is prohibited from obtaining one.
"Last week as part of his gun violence plan, President Obama called for tougher laws to penalize those who purchase guns for others who are prohibited from doing so -- known as "straw purchases'. I agree. I have consistently heard from Illinois law enforcement leaders that the lack of a federal straw purchasing statute is a critical gap in our crime reduction efforts -- one that should be fixed immediately," said Durbin who, earlier this month, met with law enforcement officials from the Chicago and Rockford metropolitan areas to discuss the strategies being used to reduce violent crime and prevent mass shootings in the city and surrounding communities and what Congress can do to help. "The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing next week on the issue of gun violence and I will chair a follow-up hearing on the constitutionality of federal gun laws under the Second Amendment. In the coming weeks, the Senate will move forward with legislation to reduce and prevent gun violence nationwide and I will work to see this bill is included."
A January 17 article in the Chicago Sun-Times reported that a large number of firearms get into the hands of Chicago criminals through straw purchasing in the suburbs and other states. Because no federal laws specifically outlaw straw purchasing, straw purchasers typically only face minor penalties for making false statements on the sale paperwork. According to law enforcements sources in the article, a federal straw purchasing statute with significant penalties would deter the practice and help reduce gun crime in the Chicago area.
The Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act of 2013 specifically prohibits the straw purchase of firearms and strengthens the law prohibiting material false statements when purchasing a firearm. The bill establishes tough penalties for anyone who transfers a gun or ammunition to another when the person has reasonable cause to believe that the firearm will be used in violent criminal activity. The bill also boosts efforts to fight gun trafficking to foreign drug cartels by making it a crime for an individual to smuggle firearms out of the United States with intent to engage in or promote violent or drug-related crime. The bill's straw purchasing prohibition contains reasonable exceptions for transfers such as legitimate gifts, raffles and auctions.
On January 10, Durbin convened a gun violence listening session that was attended by Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, Chicago Police Department 11th District Commander Eric Washington, Chicago Police Department 8th District Commander David McNaughton, Illinois State Police Director Hiram Grau, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, Calumet City Police Chief Edward Gilmore, Aurora Police Chief Gregory Thomas, and University of Chicago Crime Lab Director Jens Ludwig. Each participant briefed the Senator on gun violence in their jurisdictions, the strategies they use to combat that violence, and their recommendations on what the federal government can do to help law enforcement fight violent crime.
On January 11, Durbin was joined at the listening session by Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey, Rockford Police Chief Chet Epperson, Loves Park Police Chief Rodney Scott and Illinois State Police Region II Commander Jeffrey Patterson. Each participant briefed the Senator on gun violence in their jurisdictions, the strategies they use to combat that violence, and their recommendations on what the federal government can do to help law enforcement fight violent crime.