Firearms Trafficking Legislationby Representative Carolyn B. Maloney
Posted on 2013-03-13
MALONEY of New York. Thank you so much for organizing
I want to thank my dear friend and colleague, Mike Thompson, not only for his leadership here on the floor, but the great work that he has done as the leader of the House Democratic Gun Violence Prevention Task Force. One of the things that he underscores at all of our hearings and meetings is that he is himself a gun owner. He enjoys hunting; he enjoys having a gun for protection; he enjoys it for target shooting. But he also understands that certain guns are not for hunting; they're just for killing people, such as assault weapons, and that there are loopholes in our laws.
I regret to inform you tonight that there has been another mass murder in New York yesterday, where a gunman shot down four law enforcement in upstate New York. Now, if we don't make changes, we can only expect more of the same. It was only 10 days after the tragic killing of 20 young innocent children in Connecticut that the tragedy happened in upstate New York.
Now, the straw purchaser that bought the guns--the rifle and the assault weapon--for the felon that murdered two police officers and firemen, I doubt that that neighbor would have bought those guns for him if the law had been on the books that straw purchasers could be looking at 20 years for knowingly buying guns and giving them to a criminal or a person who could not legally have that gun.
Now, this bill has been endorsed by 30 different law enforcement organizations. Law enforcement is asking us to give them the tools to get illegal guns out of the hands of criminals. This bill that I authored grew out of a hearing we were having on violence on the border of Mexico. The agents testified that guns were being shipped into Mexico that were then used to kill our border [[Page H1392]] agents. So I asked the question: Why don't we just stop the guns? At that point, the agents testified that they don't even bother to bring charges against straw purchasers because the laws are so weak. They call them a ``slap on the wrist,'' a paper violation, that you wouldn't be punished at all.
So what we're trying to do with this bill is to make trafficking in guns to felons, to drug cartels, to gang leaders a crime--it's unbelievable that it's not a crime now--and to increase the penalties for the straw purchasers. I think it's reasonable, it's common sense, and, fundamentally, it will save lives in our country. It was introduced with Mr. Cummings, Mr. Meehan and Mr. Rigell. Mr. Rigell is a member of the NRA. Also, I think that Mr. Meehan was also a former leader in law enforcement, so he had really literally understood the need of it.
At our hearing yesterday--and at the hearings we've had in the Government Reform and Oversight Committee--law enforcement is basically begging us, absolutely begging us to give them the tools to better protect Americans.
I hope that we will listen to our chairman's plea, Mike Thompson's plea, that at least on this we can come together and forge a bipartisan effort to pass these two important bills. So I thank the gentleman for his leadership.