Firearms Trafficking Legislationby Representative Elizabeth H. Esty
Posted on 2013-03-13
ESTY. Thank you so much, Congressman Thompson, for organizing
this Special Order and for your incredible leadership on these
important issues that the country deserves to have a voice and deserves
to have a vote.
And I wanted to thank Congressman Cummings and Congresswoman Maloney for your important leadership on this very important issue that is truly a remarkable hole in the law that I think most people had no idea.
These are the holes that we saw yesterday, because the holes in the law are allowing holes in the hearts of the families of America. Holes like this, shot with assault weapons, to brave firefighters who were responding to a fire on Christmas Eve, that's what this really means.
This is a 19-year-old young man following in his family's footsteps and his lifelong dream to be a firefighter and instead was met with this, and that ended his life--a man who never should have had those guns.
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of welcoming to Washington Team 26, a group of 26 cyclists from the town of Newtown, Connecticut, in my district, who rode to Washington in support of commonsense legislation to reduce and prevent gun violence. The Sandy Hook ride to Washington was a successful event. It was also emblematic of what we're seeing across the country in the wake of the tragedy in Newtown.
Americans have been touched by the strength and love of the families and the people in Newtown in a way we have not seen in this country before. I can assure you, the Connecticut effect is not going away anytime soon because the American people are stepping up and making their voices heard for commonsense, reasonable regulations and laws to reduce and prevent gun violence. For far too long, for far too long, communities across this country, like West Webster, New York, and like Newtown, Connecticut, have paid for the price of inaction here in Congress. We cannot keep losing precious children and courageous police officers and brave first responders and many other innocent lives because we have allowed, and we are allowing, guns to be put into the hands of people who do not have permission and do not have the right to have them.
It is shocking and it is wrong that we do not have vigorous Federal laws making straw purchasing and trafficking in guns a Federal crime. We've learned today, and we learned yesterday in our hearing, that it is against the law to traffic in drugs, it is against the law to traffic in tainted food, but it is not against our Federal laws to traffic in illegal weapons in this country, and that is wrong and we need to fix it.
That's the reason that the Gun Trafficking Prevention Act has bipartisan support in the House. That is the same reason that this measure has the strong support and backing and urging and pleading of the hardworking law enforcement officers in my State who are dealing with the consequences of illegal drugs, including the leadership of Connecticut Attorney General and my friend George Jepsen.
There's a reason that law enforcement officials and groups around the country have been asking for us to pass this law. Few policies reflect commonsense, like keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals. If we are going to accomplish that goal, we must address this gaping hole with the lack of Federal laws punishing gun trafficking and straw purchasing.
Now is the time to act. We have a real opportunity to enact and to fix this hole in the law and to prevent holes in the hearts of the American people. I'm very proud to be a cosponsor of the Gun Trafficking Prevention Act and the Straw Purchaser Penalty Enhancement Act to do just that.
For the families of Newtown, for families across this great country who are affected by gun violence, for children and for police officers and first responders everywhere who put their lives on the line for us every day, and for all those whose lives are at risk today because of illegal guns, let's meet the call of the American people to strengthen the penalties for gun trafficking and straw purchasing.
I urge my colleagues to support this very laudable legislation, and I urge members of the public to urge their Representatives to stand up for safety for our first responders for our communities.
I thank my good friend, the gentleman from California, for yielding.