Every year, tens of thousands of guns find their way into the hands of criminals through illegal trafficking channels. For example, 85% of the guns found at crime scenes in New York City were originally bought out of state and made their way illegally into the City.
But there is no clear and effective statute that makes gun trafficking a federal crime. Prosecutors who want to combat traffickers are forced to rely on a weak law that prohibits “engaging in the business of selling guns without a federal license,” which carries the same punishment as trafficking chicken or livestock.
This law simply isn’t strong enough to shut down trafficking networks and keep illegal guns off our streets. As a result, according to the Department of Justice’s Inspector General, U.S. Attorneys decline to prosecute 25 percent of those cases while declining only 9 percent of drug conspiracy cases.
Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence supports proposals to empower law enforcement to investigate and prosecute straw purchasers, gun traffickers, and their entire criminal networks.