Legislation to prohibit gun trafficking and straw purchases of firearms has been one of the few concepts to get bipartisan traction in Congress after the Newtown, Ct., shooting, but legislators and advocates disagree on the necessity for new laws on the matter, says the Christian Science Monitor. National Rifle Association president David Keene says claims that the U.S. lacks such laws are “just flat-out not true.”
The truth is that the nation does have statutes outlawing gun trafficking, as well as laws that can be used to prosecute so-called straw purchasers, i.e., eligible gun buyers who obtain a firearm for someone who is ineligible to buy one. Many law enforcement officials and a growing number of legislators from both parties insist that existing laws are too frail and that a specific statute against straw purchasing is needed to give federal agents more legal firepower to crack down on gun trafficking. Virtually all weapons recovered at crime scenes are purchased from licensed firearms dealers, says the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Of firearms used in crime, 20 percent go from a licensed dealer to a crime scene in two years or less, says Mayors Against Illegal Guns.