Gillibrand and McCarthy unveiled the Gun Trafficking Prevention Act of 2009 last week in New York City, which will empower local, state, and federal law enforcement to investigate and prosecute gun traffickers and their entire criminal networks, while protecting responsible, law-abiding gun owners.
Now, that doesn't sound like anything new. And sure enough, at first glance, the provisions of the bill are all things which are already illegal. I must admit the pro-gun crowd is right in pointing out that enacting laws against things that are already illegal doesn't make much sense. So what could be the motivation behind this measure?
The explanation contains four points, the first of which is nothing new, "this legislation addresses firearms trafficking at every point of the chain."
That's more like it. Wouldn't you say that would add a little more punch to the existing legislation?
Second, the legislation establishes stiff penalties that are a much-needed deterrent to gun trafficking. Under this bill, traffickers could face up to 20 years in prison and be fined a significant sum of money.
The bill also treats individuals engaged in a conspiracy to traffic guns the same as those who actually traffick a gun. Individuals who engage in the conspiracy are subject to the same punishment as those who physically sell and receive the illegal guns.
Third, the U.S. Attorney General and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) are empowered to impose heightened restrictions, levy tough financial penalties, and suspend or revoke the license of any corrupt gun dealer. Corrupt gun dealers will be subject to a license suspension of up to six months and a fine of up to $2,500 per violation. This is the first time that the levying of civil penalties will be widely available as a deterrent for corrupt gun dealers.
The Attorney General is given the authority to identify and impose special restrictions on high-risk gun dealers, which could include dealers who have been unable to trace guns as required by federal law or who report significant or frequent inventory losses or thefts, among other criteria.
I realize some people will worry about the AG abusing all this power. But, doesn't something have to be done about the tiny percentage of corrupt gun dealers who are giving the rest a bad name? New provisions for civil penalties sounds about right too, don't you think?
The fourth part of the bill provides ATF with the resources that it needs to inspect all federally licensed gun dealers and further investigate high-risk gun dealers. Federal law currently allows ATF to conduct annual inspections of all federally licensed dealers, but with the current lack of resources and funding it would take the bureau between seven and ten years to properly inspect every licensed dealer in the country. This allows corrupt dealers to go for many years without being suspected or caught.
Resources, isn't that the name of the game? Shouldn't gun dealers be inspected regularly? Isn't it only the crooked ones who would have something to worry about?
What's your opinion? Is this just another case of ignorant gun-haters writing legislation that makes no sense? Or do you think something like this might significantly help fight the abuses which are rampant in the system?
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