Target: Congressional Republicans
Goal: Acquire support from Republicans in Congress and pass an important bill addressing the serious issue of gun trafficking
In the wake of the tragic events in Newtown, Connecticut and continued rampant gun violence all over the nation, Congress has been catapulted into deliberating and drafting several pieces of gun control legislation in the early months of 2013. A new bill gaining notable traction seeks to address the issue of gun trafficking. The bill, cosponsored by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Mark Kirk (D-IL), would create harsher penalties for people who purchase firearms and then sell them to someone ineligible to own a gun, a practice called “straw purchasing.” Straw purchases are responsible for many of the firearms used in crimes, as they allow people who are not eligible to purchase their own firearms, such as convicted felons, to acquire a weapon unlawfully.
Full details of the bill remain unavailable, but congressional aides say the bill makes gun trafficking a federal crime and proposes penalties of up to 25 years for people who buy a firearm for someone not qualified to own one. The bill also punishes the original seller of the firearm. Interstate shipping two or more guns to people who cannot legally own a gun also would become a federal crime. Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont who helped write some of the incorporated provisions of the legislation calls current gun trafficking laws “toothless.” The new legislation seeks to close the loopholes that allow criminals to exploit leaks in the law.
According to Gillibrand, in New York roughly 90% of weapons used in crimes are illegally trafficked through activities like straw purchasing. Gillibrand says she is confident the bill will receive the 60 votes it needs to pass the senate based on support from Republicans, who have been resistant to gun control legislation. Republican Susan Collins of Maine supports the bill, and Gillibrand also says the bill was in part crafted by Republican Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the top ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The bill is not a panacea for all of the flaws that exist in our current gun laws, but it addresses a huge gap in the system that has been exploited consistently by those who commit crimes with firearms. Tell Congress to support this important step in curtailing the tragic gun violence plaguing our nation.
Dear Congressional Republicans,
With the country still reeling from the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, Americans are waiting for concrete legislation about gun control. The bipartisan anti gun-trafficking bill proposed by Senators Kirk and Gillibrand is a crucial step in closing the loopholes that enable criminals to acquire guns and commit crimes. This is reasonable legislation, with bipartisan support, and will have significant impact in the battle to end gun violence.
This bill honors the 2nd amendment while establishing common sense guidelines that will help keep firearms out of the hands of those who are not qualified to own them. Please support this important bill and show Americans and all those who have been affected by gun violence that this issue has not been forgotten, and that our lawmakers can work together to create effective policy that will protect Americans.
[Your Name Here]
photo credit: Fredrick Onyango via flickr