Gillibrand gun trafficking bill picks up GOP co-sponsor

U.S.Senator Kirsten Gillibrand speaks at a press conference U.S.Senator Kirsten Gillibrand speaks at a press conference in Centereach. (Jan. 8, 2013) Photo Credit: Newsday / Karen Wiles Stabile

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WASHINGTON -- Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) Wednesday introduced a stripped-down version of her legislation to make interstate trafficking of guns a federal crime -- and picked up a Republican as a co-sponsor.

Her bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), became the first bipartisan gun legislation since the White House began its campaign to curb gun violence in response to the massacre in December at a Newtown, Conn., school.

The bill would make gun trafficking a federal crime with stiff penalties and aims to reduce the flow of illegal guns to New York, Chicago and other cities, Gillibrand said.

But to win support from Kirk and other senators, Gillibrand dropped two sections of the anti-trafficking legislation she introduced in 2009 and 2011: a measure giving the U.S. attorney general power to crack down on corrupt gun dealers, and another boosting funds to federal firearms agents to conduct more audits of gun stores.

A Gillibrand aide said she would introduce those sections in a separate bill.

Gillibrand said police need the anti-trafficking bill. "The absence of any federal law defining gun trafficking in this country is shocking," she said.

Kirk said he signed on because of the jump in murders in Chicago. "Gun trafficking is allowing gangs and violence to flourish in Chicago," he said.

Gillibrand had only Democratic co-sponsors the first two times she offered the bill. It was the first gun bill she introduced after being appointed senator in 2009 and shifting her positions on guns.

The NRA lobbied on the earlier bills, disclosure records show, but has not publicly commented on them. It did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

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