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We need this act. ACT!

4 March 2013

Boz (Bloggings By Boz) and I normally disagree about… well, just about everything, but he’s right about how important this is, and how important it is that U.S. citizens let their representatives understand the importance of it.  That includes those of us who are residents of Mexico, the country most affected by U.S. gun smugglers.  The lives we save may be our own.

 

The Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act of 2013 does three important things:

  • Defines and prohibits straw purchases. There is currently no federal law against straw purchases, where someone knowingly buys a gun for a person who is prohibited from owning firearms. Prosecutors currently charge straw purchasers with lying on federal forms. This bill will make the act of straw purchasing illegal, helping prosecutors directly target the problem.
  • Strengthens anti-trafficking laws. This law will make it illegal to knowingly transfer firearms when the person has a “reasonable cause to believe” that the weapon will be used in a crime. Currently, people who traffic weapons to criminals but aren’t directly involved in crimes can often dodge prosecution.
  • Prohibits smuggling firearms out of the US. It’s currently illegal to smuggle a weapon from Mexico to the US. This bill will make it illegal to smuggle a weapon from the US to Mexico. There is no reason that any person should be smuggling weapons across the border in either direction. This bill will make it easier to prosecute those aiding transnational criminal organizations and terrorists with obtaining weapons.

These three actions will help reduce gun violence in the US and in the hemisphere. They close obvious loopholes exploited by criminal groups to arm themselves. These measures have been requested by US law enforcement and the governments, police and militaries of our allies in Latin America and the Caribbean who are too often on the wrong end of illegally trafficked firearms. The three measures are completely constitutional, respect the second amendment, and will not impact US citizens who want to legally buy, sell or own firearms.

There is a contentious debate to be had over gun control and gun rights in the US, particularly over the proposed assault weapons ban, but the Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act should not be controversial. In fact, along with background checks, this bill should be obvious compromise legislation that both parties can agree on before they disagree about the other stuff. It protects law-abiding gun owners and law enforcement while going after violent criminals and criminal groups both at home and abroad.

Congress should pass it; President Obama should sign it.

Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Susan Collins (R-ME), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Mark Kirk (R-IL) are sponsoring the bill. They deserve credit for drafting this legislation.

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