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Public Statements

Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

Floor Speech

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Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. KIRK. Mr. President, I rise in support of the Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act of 2013, which I am proud to join in introducing with Senators Leahy, Gillibrand, Durbin and Collins. There are an estimated 33,000 gangs with 1.4 million active members who live in our neighborhoods, towns and cities across the United States. With more than 100,000 gang members, the city of Chicago has more gang members who terrorize its residents than any other city in the United States. The Chicago Crime Commission also reported the existence of an additional 15,000 gang members operating in our suburbs.

Gangs such as the Vice Lords, Gangster Disciples, and the Latin Kings are responsible for nearly 80 percent of the city's homicides, which just last summer amounted to 500 deaths in Chicago. These homicides are most often perpetrated with illegal weapons. Law enforcement officers in Chicago confiscate an average of 13,000 illegal weapons each year. It must end.

That is why I have joined this bipartisan group to take serious action to prevent weapons trafficking and straw purchasing, where a third party member legally purchases a firearm then sells or trades it to a criminal who is legally barred from purchasing such a weapon. Our bipartisan, consensus legislation includes the Gun Trafficking Prevention Act, which Senator GILLIBRAND and I introduced earlier this year, that would for the first time make it a Federal crime to traffic illegal guns. The Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act also strengthens the tools law enforcement need to crack down on straw purchasers, particularly those who transfer those weapons in furtherance of crimes of violence or drug trafficking. This legislation also calls upon the Sentencing Commission to substantially increase the penalties when these crimes are committed by individuals affiliated with gangs and other criminal enterprises.

A portion of this new anti-illegal gun trafficking legislation is named after Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old who was shot and killed by gang gunfire in Chicago. For Hadiya and thousands of other victims, my hope is we can break through the gridlock here in Washington to actually get something done to save lives.

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