51° Good Evening
51° Good Evening

Get tougher on gun traffickers across the U.S.

Guns from a buyback program at Grace Cathedral

Guns from a buyback program at Grace Cathedral in Uniondale are shown in this 2013 photo. Credit: Jim Staubitser

In New Cassel last week, a 31-year-old man was shot and killed in front of a strip mall. Last month, Carey Gabay, an aide to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, was fatally hit by a stray bullet in the midst of a gang gunfight in Brooklyn. He was 43. In August, a 14-year-old riding his bike in Uniondale was shot and left paralyzed from his shoulders down.

The list goes on and on. While the nation notices mass shootings like the one earlier this month near Roseburg, Oregon, it's the gun violence day after day that doesn't get the same attention, but is so troubling and seems so difficult to stop.

But we mustn't stop trying.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has introduced legislation that would make gun trafficking a federal crime. If it became law, the penalty for selling, purchasing or transferring two or more guns illegally would be up to 20 years in prison. The penalties would be increased if gangs or organized crime rings were involved.

Named for two teenage girls -- one in Chicago and one in New York -- who were killed by stray bullets, a similar bill sponsored by Gillibrand was introduced in 2012. It got 58 votes, two shy of a procedural vote that could have led to its passage. Now Gillibrand is taking up the cause again. The Hadiya Pendleton and Nyasia Pryear-Yard Gun Trafficking and Crime Prevention Act of 2015 allows federal law enforcement to take a comprehensive approach to the illegal movement of guns now handled by state and local officials in isolated efforts.

The bill is co-sponsored by Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.). In Chicago, shootings and homicides are up 20 percent from a year ago. But this is a New York problem, too. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives says 70 percent of the 8,539 firearms recovered and traced in New York in 2013 came from out of state.

Gillibrand's effort is one of several by Senate Democrats who've proposed closing background check loopholes and more. But Gillibrand's bill has no logical argument against it -- and though the battle to pass it may be an uphill one, it's one everyone must keep fighting.


We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.