Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutionsby Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand
Posted on 2013-01-30
GILLIBRAND (for herself and Mr. Kirk):
S. 179. A bill to prevent gun trafficking; to the Committee on the
Mrs. GILLIBRAND. Mr. President, I rise today on behalf of the millions of Americans who are saying: Enough is enough. They have seen too much senseless deadly gun violence and are demanding commonsense solutions out of Congress.
One solution I have been focused on for a long time is ending gun trafficking. This is a critically important public safety issue where I believe Members of both sides of the aisle can come together and agree. We can and should agree that it is time to crack down on the black market of illegal guns that criminals rely upon to obtain weapons that are later used in violent crimes.
Almost 1 month ago, the NYPD suffered one of its bloodiest nights in history when three officers suffered gunshot wounds in two separate crimes an hour apart. According to news reports, one of the handguns recovered from the scene was imported by traffickers from Philadelphia, and one came from North Carolina. Thankfully, these heroes are on their way toward recovery.
Just 1 year ago, New York police officer Peter Figoski, the father of four beautiful girls, was tragically killed on the beat with an illegal weapon purchased on the black market in Virginia.
I will never forget the faces of slain 17-year-old honor student Nyasia Pryear-Yard's parents whom I met just weeks after being sworn into the Senate. Nyasia was also killed by an illegal gun one terrible night when she was doing nothing more than enjoying an evening with friends.
According to the New York City's mayor's office, 85 percent of the guns used in crimes in New York City come from out of State, and 90 percent of those guns are bought through the illegal black market run by traffickers. The sad fact is more than 30 people die every single day due to gun violence. These senseless killings must stop.
We have an obligation to act and prevent tomorrow's senseless deaths by ensuring that guns stay out of the hands of criminals, and the dangerously mentally ill, and to strengthen our laws so that law enforcement has the ability to go after the gunrunners and take down these illegal markets.
The truth is that supporting the second amendment and reducing gun violence are compatible and consistent. Responsible gun owners vehemently oppose the kind of gun violence that struck Newtown, Aurora, Oak Creek, and to thousands of families across America every single year who suffer. We should be able to find reasonable and commonsense reforms that can preserve our rights but also protect our families.
Keeping our children safe from the scourge of gun violence is not a Democratic or Republican principle, it is not pro-gun or anti-gun. This is an issue that all Americans can support. There is no political ideology that finds this cruel loss of life acceptable. I was incredibly pleased to see President Obama include as part of his comprehensive plan to prevent gun violence a bill that I first introduced in 2009 with Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly, called the Gun Trafficking Prevention Act, which would be the first Federal law to define gun trafficking as a Federal crime and prevent scores of illegal guns from being moved into the hands of criminals.
We have thousands of laws, but effectively none of them are directly focused on preventing someone from driving from one State to another State with a load of guns in the back of a truck that they can sell directly to criminals.
It is shocking to me as a mother. It is shocking to me as a lawmaker. But this is something that we can actually fix.
Over the past 3 fiscal years, more than 33,000 guns used in violent crimes showed telltale signs of black market trafficking, 420,000 firearms were stolen, and thousands of guns with obliterated serial numbers were recovered by law enforcement. While law enforcement is working overtime to track down illegal guns and apprehend those who traffic these weapons, current law restricts their ability to investigate and prosecute these crimes. We may all agree this simply makes no sense and leaves all our communities vulnerable.
I am very proud to have worked with my colleague and friend Senator Mark Kirk to introduce a bipartisan bill today, S. 179. This bill takes the problem of gun trafficking head on. Our bipartisan bill would empower local, State, and Federal law enforcement to investigate and prosecute gun traffickers, straw purchasers, and their entire criminal networks. Our bill does nothing to affect the constitutionally protected rights of responsible, law-abiding gun owners.
By cracking down on illegal trafficking and their vast criminal networks, we can stop the flow of these illegal guns that are coming into our city neighborhoods and reduce gun violence. Law enforcement officials across the country have said they need this legislation to be able to fight crime.
I urge my colleagues to support this bill, and I urge passage of this commonsense, nonpartisan, bipartisan piece of legislation.