Senators reach deal to make gun trafficking a federal crime

Rick Moran
I don't know if the claim that making someting a federal offense necessarily "strengthens" a law. Laws are strong or weak depending on enforcement. It seems to me that states should be encouraged to be more watchful and enforce the laws already on the books.

Nevertheless, a bi-partisan group of Senators have come to an agreement about gun trafficking laws.

Associated Press:

A bipartisan group of senators signed onto legislation that would strengthen gun trafficking and straw purchasing laws by making both federal crimes, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy announced Monday.

"The practice of straw purchasing is used for one thing - to put firearms into the hands of those that are prohibited by law from having them. Many are then used to further violent crimes," Leahy, D-Vt., said in a statement.

The bill will not only punish someone who acts as the straw purchaser - an individual who purchases a firearm for a person who is barred from owning one -it also will punish sellers who have a "'reasonable cause to believe the firearm will be used in criminal activity," Leahy said.

The bill is largely a blend of two existing bills on the issue, one introduced by Leahy and a similar measure authored by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Republican Mark Kirk of Illinois.

Other co-sponsors include Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.; Susan Collins, R-Maine; and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.

Collins said in a statement on the Senate floor that the current loopholes in federal laws make it "very difficult" for law enforcement to prevent and prosecute trafficking violations.

"The bill creates ... new, specific criminal offenses for straw purchasing and the trafficking in firearms," Collins said. "Instead of a slap on the wrist or treating this as if it were simply a paperwork violation, these crimes, under our bill, would be punishable by up to 25 years in prison."

I suppose if uniformity is your goal, rewriting the criminal code is probably necessary. But I am unconvinced that this will keep guns out of the hands of anyone who shouldn't have them. It's a law that will be enforced after the fact - after a criminal has committed a crime. They are not going to catch too many people in the act of violating the law. The system isn't set up for that.

Another case where good intentions fall short of intelligently dealing with a problem.



I don't know if the claim that making someting a federal offense necessarily "strengthens" a law. Laws are strong or weak depending on enforcement. It seems to me that states should be encouraged to be more watchful and enforce the laws already on the books.

Nevertheless, a bi-partisan group of Senators have come to an agreement about gun trafficking laws.

Associated Press:

A bipartisan group of senators signed onto legislation that would strengthen gun trafficking and straw purchasing laws by making both federal crimes, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy announced Monday.

"The practice of straw purchasing is used for one thing - to put firearms into the hands of those that are prohibited by law from having them. Many are then used to further violent crimes," Leahy, D-Vt., said in a statement.

The bill will not only punish someone who acts as the straw purchaser - an individual who purchases a firearm for a person who is barred from owning one -it also will punish sellers who have a "'reasonable cause to believe the firearm will be used in criminal activity," Leahy said.

The bill is largely a blend of two existing bills on the issue, one introduced by Leahy and a similar measure authored by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Republican Mark Kirk of Illinois.

Other co-sponsors include Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.; Susan Collins, R-Maine; and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.

Collins said in a statement on the Senate floor that the current loopholes in federal laws make it "very difficult" for law enforcement to prevent and prosecute trafficking violations.

"The bill creates ... new, specific criminal offenses for straw purchasing and the trafficking in firearms," Collins said. "Instead of a slap on the wrist or treating this as if it were simply a paperwork violation, these crimes, under our bill, would be punishable by up to 25 years in prison."

I suppose if uniformity is your goal, rewriting the criminal code is probably necessary. But I am unconvinced that this will keep guns out of the hands of anyone who shouldn't have them. It's a law that will be enforced after the fact - after a criminal has committed a crime. They are not going to catch too many people in the act of violating the law. The system isn't set up for that.

Another case where good intentions fall short of intelligently dealing with a problem.