The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

VPC Press Office, 202-822-8200 x110,

Violence Policy Center Applauds Senate Judiciary Committee Action Approving Bill to Stop Gun Trafficking


In response to the Senate Judiciary Committee today passing legislation to make gun trafficking a federal crime, the Violence Policy Center (VPC) issued the following statement by VPC Legislative Director Kristen Rand:

"The bill voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee today addresses the illegal flow of guns into urban centers in the United States as well as the cross-border smuggling of firearms from the United States to Mexico, the Caribbean, and Canada. By honing in on the practice of 'straw purchasing,' the bill would stem the flow of illegal guns domestically and internationally. 'Straw purchasing' involves persons prohibited from possessing firearms recruiting people with clean records to purchase guns and then transfer them to prohibited buyers such as felons. In 'Following the Gun: Enforcing Federal Firearms Laws Against Illegal Traffickers' (June 2000), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) identified 'straw purchasing' as 'the most common channel in [firearm] trafficking investigations,' noting, 'Almost half of all the trafficking investigations involved straw purchasers.' The Violence Policy Center has examined more than 110 federal gun prosecutions from 2007 to the present involving high-volume gun trafficking to Mexico and other Latin American countries and found that 72 of them involved allegations of the use of 'straw purchasers.' The bottom line is that guns that are acquired through 'straw purchases' are being used to kill Americans every day, particularly in large cities such as Chicago, Baltimore, Los Angeles, New York, and Washington, D.C. At the same time, guns obtained using this practice are driving drug-related killings in Mexico, the Caribbean, and Canada. It is past time that Congress put a federal anti-gun trafficking law on the books."

The Violence Policy Center (VPC) works to stop gun death and injury through research, education, advocacy, and collaboration. Founded in 1988 by Executive Director Josh Sugarmann, a native of Newtown, Connecticut, the VPC informs the public about the impact of gun violence on their daily lives, exposes the profit-driven marketing and lobbying activities of the firearms industry and gun lobby, offers unique technical expertise to policymakers, organizations, and advocates on the federal, state, and local levels, and works for policy changes that save lives. The VPC has a long and proven record of policy successes on the federal, state, and local levels, leading the National Rifle Association to acknowledge us as "the most effective ... anti-gun rabble-rouser in Washington."