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Friday, May 7th, 2021

Senators introduce legislation to combat illegal firearms trafficking

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U.S. Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced a bill Monday aimed at combating straw purchasing and illegal trafficking in firearms to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals.

The Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act would make it a federal crime to act as a straw purchaser of a firearm. Straw purchasing is when an agent purchases a good or service for another person who cannot or does not want to purchase that good or service themselves. Additionally, the bill would create penalties for anyone who transfers a firearm to someone else if they have reasonable cause to believe it would be used in drug crimes, crimes of violence, or acts of terrorism.

“Straw purchasing is intended to achieve one result: to put a gun in the hands of a criminal who cannot legally obtain one. Traffickers, in particular, exploit weaknesses in federal law by targeting people who can lawfully purchase guns. Then, those traffickers use those guns to commit crimes or sell them to other criminals. This practice also fuels the opioid epidemic that is taking a devastating toll on all of our communities,” Collins said. “Police officers in Maine tell me about the familiar patterns they see: drug dealers and gang members, often from out-of-state and with criminal records, cross into Maine and approach drug addicts to be their straw buyers in exchange for heroin. Our bill will help keep guns out of the hands of criminals without infringing upon the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens.”

The legislation is supported by law enforcement organizations, including the Fraternal Order of Police, Major Cities Chiefs Association, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, National Sheriffs’ Association, and the National District Attorneys Association.