WASHINGTON--Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) are joining forces to sponsor a gun-trafficking bill, Gillibrand announced Thursday during an interview with Andrea Mitchell on her MSNBC show.
"So Senator Mark Kirk and I sat down yesterday, talked about our bill. And we decided we're going to introduce this bipartisan bill next week. And I think it's something that can really make a difference because we have to stop the flow of illegal guns going straight to the hands of the criminals," Gillibrand said.
"And that will be a great complement to what Senator Feinstein and Senator Schumer and others are working on because it's the complement of these types of changes to be able to keep these guns out of the hands of the gravely mentally ill and the criminal minds."
One of the biggest loopholes in the background check system is that there is no penalty for being a "straw purchasers," people with clean backgrounds who resell the guns they legally buy. On Thursday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) proposed a ban on some assault weapons. She was the chief sponsor of the assault weapon ban in place between 1994 and 2004.
Kirk could well end up the lead Republican on gun control issues.
Mitchell asked how the Gillibrand/Kirk proposals "work to prevent people who should not have guns from getting guns?"
Gillibrand said, "Well, one of the things is there's no federal law that makes gun trafficking illegal. There's no crime to be a straw purchaser and to take weapons from a state like -- a Southern state and bring it straight up to New York and sell it out of the back of your truck directly to criminals. There's no law that says you can't do that.
"And so, now, we're giving law enforcement the tools they need to actually go after these criminals and these criminal networks to make sure they can't be just selling the guns right out of the back of a truck.
".....Today, about 40 percent of guns are purchased without a background check. So that means, if you've been convicted of domestic violence or are gravely mentally ill or have a criminal record of violence, you could buy a gun off the Internet. You can buy a gun at a gun show.
"It's a vast loophole that needs to be closed, and I know that that's something we're going to work on very hard and try to get passed as well.
"And I think the two bills -- having the anti-trafficking and closing the background check loopholes is going to make a huge difference because, once everyone has to get a background check, you want to make sure it then just doesn't start to have an underground market. You don't want to -- you don't want to increase the amount of trafficking."