In the wake of an increasing spate of mass shooting events in the United States, Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Edward Markey (D-MA) have introduced new legislation filled with clear enforcement methods and stricter accountability measures for the nation’s gun dealers.
The legislation, the Keeping Gun Dealers Honest Act, calls for greater penalties for offenders and giving the Department of Justice more power and ability to enforce the nation’s gun laws, as well as mandating increased inspections of gun dealers to assess them for compliance. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) would gain greater authority, allowing them to make these inspections up to three times per year, have greater discretion in gun licensing and demand more serious record-keeping to crackdown on gun trafficking.
The legislation is based on a Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence report which found that just five percent of gun dealers end up providing 90 percent of guns used in crimes in the United States.
“We have seen the devastating consequences of not holding gun dealers who engage in illegal sales practices accountable,” Markey said. “By increasing inspections and penalties, we can decrease the number of guns falling into the wrong hands. And by strengthening accountability measures for all gun dealers and equipping ATF with the tools to enforce the law, we can prevent further gun violence from occurring.”
In all, 11 Senate democrats have signed as co-sponsors to the bill, while companion legislation has been introduced in the House as well. It is supported by the Brady Campaign, Million Mom March, Everytown for Gun Safety, March For Our Lives, and Stop Handgun Violence.
“Most gun dealers follow the law, but we’ve seen the damage that bad gun dealers can inflict upon a community when they fail to perform background checks or sell to people who shouldn’t have guns, putting profits over human lives,” Avery Gardiner, co-president of the Brady Campaign, said. “Simply put, these people put us all at risk. If the Attorney General isn’t going to follow through on his pledge to crack down on illegal guns, then we’ll need to turn to Congress to pass laws that will. This bill would accomplish exactly that, and we’re proud to support this important legislation.”
Supporters noted, however, that the bill would add no new restrictions on who can legally purchase a firearm.
“It’s just a matter of basic fairness,” Charlie Mirsky of March for Our Lives said. “Right now, honest gun dealers who play by the rules are being given a bad name by unscrupulous dealers who sell to convicted felons and the mentally ill. [The legislation] just makes sure that honest gun dealers are given a fair shake.”