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Mr. CUMMINGS. I want to thank the gentleman for yielding, and I rise today to ask every Member of the House to join our bipartisan efforts to combat firearms trafficking and cosponsor H.R. 452, the Gun Trafficking Prevention Act.
Earlier this year, I was honored to join colleagues on both sides of the aisle to introduce this commonsense proposal to make firearms trafficking a Federal crime for the first time and to impose stiff new penalties on straw purchasers. Since then, the number of cosponsors has swelled, adding both Republicans and Democrats. It has also gained bipartisan support in the Senate.
Our bill has been endorsed by law enforcement officials across the country, and it does not affect the rights of any law-abiding gun owner. The only people that would be against this bill would be straw purchasers and those who are forbidden legally from possessing a gun.
Just yesterday, we held a bipartisan forum, as my colleague has just mentioned, to hear the accounts of first responders who have been the victims of gun violence resulting from straw purchases or other trafficking incidents.
I want to reiterate what has been said by Mr. Thompson about Ted Scardino. He was a brave firefighter from New York who suffered multiple gunshot wounds and saw two of his colleagues gunned down on Christmas Eve when they were responding to a fire. Mike Chiapperini and Tomasz Kaczowka were those colleagues who are now no longer with us. Here is Tomasz. He was just a 19-year-old who had just joined the volunteer fire department.
It turned out that the fire was set by a convicted felon, William Spengler. He previously served 17 years in prison for killing his grandmother with a hammer. Spengler ambushed these first responders and sprayed them with bullets. Despite his criminal record, Spengler walked into a gun store, alongside a straw purchaser, to obtain guns to be used to kill these brave men. As Mr. Scardino said yesterday, he supports our bipartisan legislation because he wants to keep guns out of the hands of deranged killers, create a deterrent to providing guns to dangerous criminals, and prevent more tragic deaths like these.
After working on this legislation for several years, Mrs. Maloney and I have never been more hopeful that we can pass it with significant bipartisan support. I urge all my colleagues to cosponsor this bill.
Mr. Thompson, just very briefly, one of the things that has been said over and over again--and we hear it from the NRA--is that we ought to deal with the laws that we already have. Well, right now, there's a phenomenal loophole with the laws that we already have.
Law enforcement, by the way, brought this to the attention of our committee, and they didn't ask for a trafficking law--they begged for it. Because as was testified to yesterday in the hearing, those who want to commit some kind of crimes, they're always looking for what they call a hustle; they're looking for something to make their money off of.
Witnesses told us yesterday--as a matter of fact, the head of the San Francisco police said that it has become easier to deal in guns and more lucrative than to deal in drugs. So a lot of folks that would normally be going to deal in drugs are now dealing in guns. Why? Because there is no dedicated trafficking law, and this is what our bill will do. It also will increase those penalties for straw purchasers.
I want to thank the gentleman, by the way, for your hard work. You've done an outstanding job in bringing Members of the House together to forge ahead with regard to legislation to address these issues, and I want to thank you.
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