Press Release

Giffords Praises Introduction of Bill to Hold Unlawful Gun Traffickers Accountable

Legislation would aid law enforcement efforts to prevent prohibited purchasers from illegally acquiring guns

Washington, DCGiffords, the gun safety organization founded and led by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, applauded Representative Robin Kelly (D-IL) for introducing the Prevent Gun Trafficking Act today to better stop the illegal purchase of trafficked weapons. The legislation would prevent prohibited purchasers from obtaining guns by creating a federal firearms trafficking statute and discouraging straw purchases of firearms.

Every year, thousands of guns are diverted from legal to illegal markets through unregulated gun sales, straw purchases (sales in which a purchaser is actually buying a gun on behalf of another person), gun traffickers who falsely claim their guns were lost or stolen, and corrupt gun dealers who sell guns off the books to traffickers. This allows deadly weapons to be easily purchased in states with weak gun laws and trafficked to states with stronger gun laws, where they end up in the hands of people unable to pass a background check and are often used in violent crimes.

David Chipman, Giffords Senior Advisor and Former ATF Special Agent:  

“Too often, law enforcement faces the tough job of solving a gun crime after a tragedy. It’s time to put more focus on stopping criminals before they get a firearm and put communities at risk. A federal trafficking statute will give ATF agents and local law enforcement the ability to go after unscrupulous gun sellers and the criminals to whom they sell before shots are ever fired. Gun trafficking isn’t just a paperwork violation—it’s a serious offense that makes the country’s gun violence crisis worse. We thank Rep. Kelly for her leadership on this important legislation that will save lives.”

Studies indicate that states with strong gun laws, such as California and Illinois, have increased rates of gun crime and homicide when they border states with weak gun laws, such as Arizona and Indiana. Although straw purchases are currently prohibited under federal law, they are often treated as minor violations and go unchecked. The Prevent Gun Trafficking Act would ensure that firearms trafficking is appropriately treated as a serious and dangerous federal offense.