U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand released the following statement today after President Obama announced the inclusion of anti-gun trafficking legislation, first authored by Gillibrand in 2009, as part of a comprehensive plan crafted by his "Task Force to Prevent Gun Violence" led by Vice President Biden. Gillibrand's Gun Trafficking Prevention Act, which would be the first federal law to define gun trafficking as a federal crime, is aimed at preventing the scores of illegal guns from being trafficked into New York and other cities across the country.
Just 10 days ago, Senators Gillibrand and Charles Schumer urged the Vice President's task force to adopt gun trafficking legislation, and Schumer's Fix Gun Checks Act making it harder for felons and the dangerously mentally ill from purchasing guns. Gillibrand is a strong supporter of legislation to close the gun show loophole and ban the sale of military style assault weapons and ammunition clips.
"The American people are saying enough is enough and are demanding common sense solutions. Congress has an obligation to act and prevent tomorrow's senseless deaths by coming together and ensuring that guns stay out of the hands of criminals and the dangerously mentally ill.
"Keeping our children safe from the scourge of gun violence is not a Republican or a Democratic principle; this is an issue for all Americans. There is no political ideology that finds this loss of life acceptable. Keeping our children safe from the scourge of gun violence should not be a partisan issue, or even a pro-gun or anti-gun issue.
"The absence of any federal law defining gun trafficking in this country is shocking. It is time to give law enforcement the tools they need to keep illegal guns off the streets and out of the hands of dangerous people. By cracking down on illegal gun traffickers and their vast criminal networks, we can stop the flow of illegal guns and reduce the violence that plagues too many communities around New York and across the country.
"And we should be able to agree that no American should have access to the high-capacity ammunition clips made for our military. We should be able to agree on fixing our broken background check system and banning military-style weapons that have no recreational sports use.
"I am grateful the President is showing the leadership we need with a comprehensive approach that addresses gun safety and mental health. I hope my Republican colleagues will join us on these reasonable common sense reforms that preserve the rights of law abiding gun owners and also protect our families."
Every day, illegal guns are flowing into cities around the country. In New York City, 85% of the guns used in gun crimes come from out of state, and 90% of these guns are estimated to be illegal. Yet while law enforcement agencies work overtime to track down these weapons, there is no federal law that enables law enforcement to investigate and prosecute those who traffic these firearms. We have thousands of laws, but none of them are directly focused on preventing someone from Virginia from driving to New York City, parking their car in a parking lot, and selling hundreds of firearms out of the back of their trunk to criminals.
In 2009, just ten states supplied nearly half -- 49% -- of the guns that crossed state lines before being recovered in crimes. Together, these states accounted for nearly 21,000 interstate crime guns recovered.
Over the past three fiscal years, more than 330,000 guns used in violent gun crimes showed telltale signs of black market trafficking; 420,000 firearms were stolen; and thousands of guns with obliterated serial numbers were recovered by law enforcement. The horrific shooting of first responders in Webster, New York last month involved the use of a straw purchaser.
The Gun Trafficking Prevention Act of 2013 would empower local, state, and federal law enforcement to investigate and prosecute gun traffickers and their entire criminal networks. By going after corrupt gun dealers, establishing strong penalties and making gun trafficking a federal crime for the very first time -- from the prohibited person who buys the gun from the dealer, to the person illegally selling the gun out of the trunk of a car, to the kingpin that organizes the entire network -- we can stem the flow of illegal guns coming into neighborhoods and cities around the country on a daily basis via criminal gun trafficking rings.
Gillibrand's legislation protects the constitutional rights of responsible, law-abiding gun owners who get a background check before selling or purchasing a gun, while giving law enforcement the tools they need to keep our families safe.