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Press Release: Rigell Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Combat Illegal Trafficking of Firearms

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Today, Republican Representatives Scott Rigell (VA-2) and Patrick Meehan (PA-7) along with Democratic Representatives Carolyn Maloney (NY-12) and Elijah Cummings (MD-7) introduced the first bipartisan legislation in the House of Representatives to address gun violence. The Gun Trafficking Prevention Act of 2013 (GTPA) assists law enforcement in effectively deterring and prosecuting criminals who traffic in firearms. The bill also specifically addresses the practice of "straw purchasing," which occurs when an individual poses as the actual buyer, but is really acquiring the firearm for another person. These weapons are often used to commit crimes, like the Christmas Eve murder of first responders in New York.

"This legislation is directed at keeping guns out of the hands of criminals," said Congressman Scott Rigell (VA-02). "The murders of our first responders in New York on Christmas Eve with a straw purchased firearm was a tragedy, and we must find common ground to lessen the level of gun violence in the United States. That is what the Gun Trafficking Prevention Act of 2013 does," added Rigell, a lifelong member of the NRA and gun owner. "This common sense legislation has bipartisan support, and when we find common ground, we must embrace it, celebrate it, and act on it."

The GTPA creates a dedicated federal statute prohibiting gun trafficking and increases the penalties associated with straw purchases, which are currently treated as "paper work" offenses since they are often committed by individuals who do not have criminal records. Rigell added that this legislation strengthens the deterrent used to stop the practice of straw purchasing while instilling in our culture the severity of buying guns for criminals.

This legislation is widely supported by local and national law enforcement.

The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police expressed their support for the Gun Trafficking Prevention Act of 2013 in a letter to Rep. Rigell stating that, "A large number of firearms are diverted from legal commerce and into the hands of criminals each year due in part to the lack of federal and state statutes that prohibit illegal firearms trafficking. Specifically, the issue of "straw purchases" of weapons is of great concern, as it is considered a serious threat to public safety."

"Rep. Scott Rigell's legislation that would help stop straw men from purchasing firearms is a great example of Thomas Jefferson calling each individual state as a 'laboratory of democracy.' Virginia currently has state law that is very similar to this federal legislation, and I am supportive of Rep. Rigell's efforts to bring this common-sense crime legislation from Virginia to the federal level." Virginia Beach Sheriff, Ken Stolle (R) said.

"Stopping criminals from obtaining firearms is crucial to ensuring our communities are safe from crime and violence," said City of Norfolk Sheriff, Bob McCabe (D). "I applaud the bipartisan legislation being advanced by Rep. Scott Rigell to enhance the federal penalties for those using straw men to purchase firearms. Stopping the deadliest criminals from illegally obtaining the deadliest weapons is vital to keeping our streets safe."

Specifically, the GTPA accomplishes the following:

Amends Chapter 44 of title 18 to create a new Section 932 to address firearms trafficking.

Prohibits purchasing, attempting to purchase, or transferring a firearm with the intent to deliver the firearm to a person who the transferor knows or has reason to believe is prohibited from possessing a firearm under federal or state law.

Prohibits intentionally providing false or misleading material information on an ATF transaction record form in connection to the purchase or transfer of a firearm.

Prohibits knowingly directing, promoting, or facilitating a violation of this section.

Provides an exception for gifts that would not otherwise violate the law and certain transfers at death.

Imposes a fine and/or a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment for violations of this section.

Provides a five year penalty enhancement for organizing, supervising, or otherwise managing five or more persons who violate this section.

Imposes a fine and/or a maximum penalty of 10 years for conspiracy to violate this section.

Instructs the U.S. Sentencing Commission to review and amend, if appropriate, the federal sentencing guidelines applicable to convictions under this section and to adjust the penalty structure based on the number of firearms involved in the offense.

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