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Strong Laws Needed to Combat Violent Street Gangs

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Strong Laws Needed to Combat Violent Street Gangs

Washington, D.C. - Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX), Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, today issued the following statement regarding the growing problem of gang violence in the United States:

"According to a recent report by the FBI, violent crime in the U.S. is on the rise," stated Ranking Member Smith. "Neighborhoods and communities that were once safe have become increasingly vulnerable as violent street gangs expand their networks into smaller suburban areas."

"Since becoming the majority last January, Democrats have held 14 politically motivated hearings and markups on White House personnel matters," said Smith. "In the same period, they held only one hearing on violent crime. Today's subcommittee hearing is a step in the right direction, but it is not enough."

"The Justice Department estimates that there are currently over 25,000 gangs operating in more than 3,000 counties in the U.S.," Smith continued. "According to the latest available National Youth Gang Survey, there are approximately 850,000 gang members on the streets and in our communities. That's equivalent to the total number of active duty U.S. Navy and Army personnel. In fact, if the criminal gang members in the U.S. were a military force located in another country, they would compromise the sixth largest military in the world in terms of soldiers."

"In July, Republicans introduced comprehensive legislation to help law enforcement officials fight crime, but Democrats have been slow to act on the bills," Smith added. "Violent street gangs cannot be allowed to continue trafficking drugs, recruiting our youth and endangering our communities."

"It's time for Democrats to stop the political circus and start passing strong legislation that helps law enforcement," concluded Smith. "It's time to pass Republican legislation that provides law enforcement the tools necessary to combat violent crime and help keep our neighborhoods and communities safe."

Republicans introduced the following legislation to strengthen law enforcement and decrease crime:

Fighting Violent Crime:
o Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA)—Violent Crime Prevention and Enforcement Act of 2007 (H.R. 3142)
o Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-PA)—Death to Cop Killers Act of 2007 (H.R. 3153)
o Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL)—State and Local Criminal Laboratory Enhancement Act of 2007 (H.R. 3151)

Addressing Gang Violence:
o Rep. Ric Keller (R-FL)—Anti-Gang Enforcement Act of 2007 (H.R. 3150)
o Rep. Charles Dent (R-PA)—Anti-Gang Task Force Act of 2007 (H.R. 3152)

Preventing Terrorism and Promoting National Security:
o Rep. Geoff Davis (R-KY)—Combating Terrorism Financing Act of 2007 (H.R. 3146)
o Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM)—Counter-Terrorism and National Security Act of 2007 (H.R. 3146)

Protecting Children:
o Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA)—Sex Offender Internet Prohibition Act of 2007 (H.R. 3144)
o Rep. Jon Porter (R-NV)—Protecting America's Children Act of 2007 (H.R. 3149)
o Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO)—Child Pornography Elimination Act of 2007 (H.R. 3148)

Stopping Meth Traffickers:
o Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE)—Methamphetamine Kingpin Elimination Act of 2007 (H.R. 3143)

Guarding Against Criminal Aliens and Smugglers:
o Rep. Thelma Drake (R-VA)—Prohibition Against Criminal Alien Re-entry Act of 2007 (H.R. 3145)
o Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN)—Alien Smuggling Criminal Enterprise Deterrence Act of 2007 (H.R. 3154)

Protecting Intellectual Property:
o Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH)—Intellectual Property Enhanced Criminal Enforcement Act of 2007 (H.R. 3155)

Representatives Smith and Forbes also introduced the Violent Crime Control Act of 2007 (H.R. 3156), an omnibus crime bill that provides tools needed to reduce violent crime, protect the country from terrorist attacks, dismantle dangerous street gangs, apprehend sex offenders who prey on our children, compensate victims of crime and shut down illegal money laundering operations. The bill includes specific proposals made by the Justice Department to reduce violent crime and terrorism, and incorporates proposals by Ranking Member Smith, Crime Subcommittee Ranking Member Forbes, former California Attorney General Dan Lungren, and Representatives Steve Chabot and Louie Gohmert.

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