Durbin on Senate floor: ‘Need to shut down pipeline of guns’

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After an extremely violent Fourth of July weekend in Chicago, Sen. Dick Durbin, D.-Ill., is in full assault mode when it comes to gun control.

A day after he urged the Senate to try again and bring to the floor abackground check legislation he co-sponsored for tougher background checks and a crackdown ontrafficking and straw purchase of guns, he took to the Senate floor again Wednesday morning to press the issue.

“14 dead, 82 wounded. That grim statistic was reported this weekend,” Durbin said. “It was not from Baghdad. It was not from Damascus, it was not from Gaza. No, it was not from the Middle East. It was from the middle west. It was from Chicago.”

Durbin went on to talk about specific murders, one by one and touched on the amount of grief that is being felt across Chicago.

“These numbers cloak the grief that families are now going through, as someone that they love is either gone or seriously injured,” Durbin said. “When you listen to their voices, you understand what life is like on the mean streets on the south and west sides of Chicago.”

“This type of violence is absolutely unacceptable. … There are still too many deaths from gun violence,” Durbin said.

He also praised responsible gun owners, who agree with him that no convicted felon or mentally unstable people should be allowed to buy a gun.

“We considered that on the floor of the Senate,” Durbin said. “Close the gun show loophole. Ask the question, ‘have you been convicted of a felony,’ ‘is there soething in your background that suggests a mental instability that should prohibit you from owning a gun?’ We couldn’t pass that measure.”

He goes on:

“If we want to keep the guns out of the hands of those who would misuse them, if we want to protect the rights of law-abiding respectful citizens who own firearms and follow the law, then we should take care and make sure we do everything in our power to keep guns out of the hands of folks who will use them to hurt and kill innocent people.”

Toward the end of his speech, Durbin gets fired up, showing just how passionate he is about the issue.

“I want to an opportunity to raise important issues about gun violence and gun safety in America,” he said. “I’m going to offer an amendment … which stiffens the penalties for those who purchase guns to give them to another person or sell them to another person to commit a crime.”

“Girlfriends, wake up,” Durbin said. “When that thug sends you in to buy a gun, under this amendment, you run the risk of spending 15 years of your life in a federal prison. So think about it. Is he really worth it?”

You can watch the full C-Span video here.

Below is the summary of the amendment Durbin talked about:

Summary of Durbin Amendment to S. 2363

To Strengthen Criminal Penalties for Straw Purchasers and Traffickers of Firearms

The Durbin Amendment would increase federal criminal penalties on straw purchasers and gun traffickers who know or have reasonable cause to believe that the gun or ammunition they are transferring would be used in a crime of violence. This amendment would create a strong deterrent to those who supply criminals with guns.

The problems of straw purchasing and illegal gun trafficking are well known, but current federal law creates an inadequate deterrent for these practices. After 82 people were shot, 14 fatally, in Chicago over the July 4thweekend, Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said “Something has to happen to slow down the straw purchasing that happens in this state.” Cracking down on straw purchasing and gun trafficking would help shut down the pipeline of guns that supplies Chicago’s criminal gun market.

This amendment would do several things:

  • Current law prohibits a straw purchaser from making a false statement on the gun sale record that a gun dealer must keep, and prohibits making a false statement intended or likely to deceive a gun dealer about any fact material to the lawfulness of the sale. Under current law, these offenses are subject to a maximum prison sentence of 5 years and 10 years, respectively. The Durbin amendment would provide for these straw purchasers to face a prison sentence of up to 15 years if the purchaser knew or had reasonable cause to believe that the gun is to be used to commit a crime of violence.
  • Current law also creates a 10 year maximum penalty for a person who transfers a firearm knowing that the firearm will be used to commit a crime of violence or drug trafficking crime. The Durbin amendment would increase the maximum penalty to 15 years, and would apply to a person who either knows or has reasonable cause to believe that the gun will be used to commit a crime of violence, a drug trafficking crime, or other serious offenses.
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