Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand called Friday for passage of legislation that for the first time would make gun trafficking a federal crime with a maximum punishment of up to 20 years in prison.
Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) was joined at Touro Law School in Central Islip by Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, law-enforcement officials and gun-control activists who discussed ways to crack down on traffickers who bring illegal firearms into the region.
"Month after month, year after year, illegal guns have been tearing our communities apart throughout New York and our whole country," Gillibrand said.
Gillibrand's bill, the Hadiya Pendleton and Nyasia Pryear-Yard Gun Trafficking and Crime Prevention Act of 2015 -- named after two girls who were killed by stray bullets -- would make it a federal crime to illegally sell, transfer or purchase two or more guns.
The bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), also calls for the federal Sentencing Commission to increase penalties for trafficking conducted by gangs, cartels or organized crime. Gun trafficking now is regulated by a patchwork of local and state laws.
Gillibrand offered a similar bill in 2013 and got 58 votes, two short of the number necessary to stop a filibuster.
A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) did not respond to a request for comment on the bill.
An illegal gun trafficked from Georgia to the New York City region was used to kill NYPD officer and Massapequa native Brian Moore last May.
Officials say Georgia is a significant source of illegal guns in the New York region. At least 322 guns recovered during criminal probes on Long Island have been traced to Georgia from 2005 to 2014, according to federal, state and local gun-trace data reviewed by Newsday.
"Trafficking is bringing guns to our region at an incredible level," Bellone said. "And we don't seem to have the ability to stop it."