Today, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) issued a statement on a new bipartisan bill to combat straw purchasing and gun trafficking that will be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee later this week. 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 introduced at the beginning of the 113th Congress, and a separate anti-trafficking bill Sen. Gillibrand and Sen. Kirk introduced earlier this year. With the additional input and support of Sen. Collins, the bill strikes a balanced approach and for the first time will create specific prohibitions 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.
"I am proud to join Senators Leahy, Gillibrand, Collins, Durbin and Kirk in introducing the Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act, and hopeful that the Judiciary Committee will move quickly to approve this legislation and send it to the full Senate. This bill gives law enforcement essential tools to enforce America's gun laws by ramping up penalties for straw purchasers and making it easier for prosecutors to bring gun traffickers to justice.
"This legislation is what law enforcement needs to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals who already legally cannot possess them. That's why it is supported by the National Fraternal Order of Police, the National Law Enforcement Partnership to Prevent Gun Violence, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Major Cities Chiefs Association, the National District Attorneys Association, and the Police Executive Research Forum.
"For two decades, Frank D'Andrea ran the gun shop of choice for gangsters and drug traffickers in Stratford, Connecticut, routinely supplying firearms, ammunition and bullet proof vests to notoriously violent felons. His shop was the source of the second largest number of guns recovered in connection with crimes in the State of Connecticut, but under existing federal law, it was difficult to make a case against him for selling to straw purchasers. Had the Leahy bill been law at the time, it would have been easier to prosecute D'Andrea for sales to straw purchasers, and he would have faced considerably longer prison terms."