Having called for a comprehensive approach to reducing gun violence in America, Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) introduced a bill to help track down and punish the most irresponsible gun dealers, in light of their substantial contribution to gun crimes.
The Crackdown on Deadbeat Gun Dealers Act would increase the ability of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to:
Inspect federal firearms licensees (FFLs) for compliance with recordkeeping requirements by increasing the allowable inspections per year from one to three;
Increase the penalties for knowingly misrepresenting any facts about a firearms sale; and
Authorize the Attorney General to suspend a dealer's license and assess civil penalties for firearms violations, including failure to have secure gun storage or safety devices.
"The vast majority of gun dealers, like the vast majority of gun owners, are responsible law-abiding citizens. We can protect their rights and livelihoods while taking sensible steps to address what should be the top priority of our gun laws: preventing the wrong weapons from getting into the wrong hands," said Langevin, a member of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force who became a quadriplegic after he was paralyzed in a gun accident at age 16.
"I applaud President Obama for recommending an all-encompassing approach to this challenging issue. Getting rid of these deadbeat gun dealers is an important complement to an effort that I hope will also include universal background checks, closing the gun show loophole, a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and improving mental health services."
According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, analysis of U.S. firearms sales has shown that only one percent of licensed dealers are responsible for selling nearly 60 percent of guns traced to crime. In addition, the Brady Center found that gun dealers "lost" at least 82 firearms every day, totaling more than 30,000 guns in a year. Yet under current law, the ATF is limited to checking dealers for compliance with basic recordkeeping requirements only once in any 12-month period.
This legislation marks another step in Langevin's efforts to join leading gun safety advocates in the House to maintain the pressure for long-overdue action by Congress on this issue in the wake of the Newtown tragedy. Along with Representatives Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and David Cicilline (D-RI), he has also asked members of the Democratic Caucus to invite someone impacted by gun violence to the President's State of the Union address on February 12, 2013.