Senators announce bipartisan gun-trafficking bill

| Monday, March 4, 2013, 9:27 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Gun trafficking and the straw purchasing of firearms would become federal crimes under bipartisan legislation announced by five senators on Monday.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said the bill would establish tough penalties for those who buy a firearm or ammunition with the intent of transferring it to someone else. The measure also would make it a crime to smuggle firearms out of the United States.

Leahy said there is no federal law now that defines as crimes either gun trafficking or straw purchasing — when a person who can legally buy guns transfers those guns to criminals and others barred from gun ownership .

The bill was crafted by Leahy, fellow Democrats Dick Durbin of Illinois and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, and Republicans Mark Kirk of Illinois and Susan Collins of Maine.

“The absence of any federal law defining gun trafficking as a crime in this country is shocking,” Gillibrand said.

The legislation will be taken up by the Judiciary Committee on Thursday as part of a package of four bills aimed at reducing gun violence. The others involve regulating assault weapons, enhancing school safety and requiring background checks for all firearm sales.

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