Target: U.S. Senate and House of Representatives
Goal: Encourage Congress to move forward on stricter gun control measures
Nearly three months after the tragedy of Sandy Hook in Newtown, Connecticut, the first steps towards tighter gun control measures have been taken. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved legislation that will make “straw purchases” of guns a felony, and increase the penalty to a sentence of up to twenty-five years in prison.
A “straw purchase” is a term used to describe the legal purchase of guns by an individual with a clean record on behalf of those who are prohibited from buying guns themselves, such as convicted criminals, or people with a history of mental illness or domestic abuse. Straw purchases are one of the most common ways illegal guns get into the hands of those who can’t buy them. Usually, a friend or neighbor buys one or two. This was the case in an incident in upstate New York, a mere ten days after Sandy Hook, where a convicted felon killed two volunteer firefighters after luring them to his house by setting it ablaze. A neighbor had purchased his guns for him. While most straw purchases are small, it’s not unknown for gun traffickers to recruit individuals with clean records to make large purchases in order to stock an arsenal for sale on the black market.
Current law regarding straw purchases makes it a crime to lie on the form for a background check, a paperwork violation that can be too easily dismissed. The new bill will include stiffer penalties and make straw purchases a federal crime. This is the first legislative action on gun control since the shootings at Newtown, in December, 2012. The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 11-7 to move the bill to the Senate floor. A similar bill is being proposed to the House.
Preventing the purchases of guns on behalf of people who cannot pass a background check or have criminal records is one part of President Obama’s regulatory agenda, which also includes the reinstatement of the assault weapons ban, a limit on the capacity of magazines, and the expansion of background checks. Many gun experts believe that straw purchase and background check measures will need to work in tandem to reduce gun violence.
The approval of stricter gun control regulations will be a long uphill battle against powerful gun lobbyists. Show support for the first steps and encourage Congress to keep up the good work.
Dear members of Congress,
Since the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, more than 2,500 people have been killed by guns in the United States. While owning firearms is one of our Constitutional rights, stricter regulations need to be in place to keep those guns out of the hands of convicted criminals and the mentally ill.
Recently, the Senate Judiciary Committee took initial steps in the right direction by approving legislation to make “straw purchases” a federal crime and increasing its penalties. We encourage you, members of Congress, to continue those efforts toward tighter regulations regarding guns: improve background checks, make straw purchases a felony, and ban assault rifles and high-capacity magazines. While none of these measures will necessarily end gun violence, they can each save many lives and help avert further tragedies.
[Your Name Here]
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