Bipartisan Group Hatches Gun Bill in Senate

Patrick Leahy announces push against 'straw purchasers'

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 4, 2013 7:08 PM CST

(Newser) – A bipartisan group of senators hatched a bill today that would increase penalties for so-called "straw purchasers" of firearms, the Washington Post reports. Sen. Patrick Leahy, announcing the deal, said anyone who illegally buys a gun for someone else would face up to 20 years in prison; the seller would be punished as well. "The practice of straw purchasing is used for one thing—to put firearms into the hands of those that are prohibited by law from having them," said Leahy. "Many are then used to further violent crimes."

The proposal merges a Leahy bill to punish "straw purchasers" and a bill by Sens. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) to penalize the seller. Sens. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) cosponsored, and other Republicans may join in. But increasing penalties for gun traffickers isn't too controversial, NBC News notes; a similar bill has already reached the House. Another bipartisan group of senators is negotiating a background-check bill, but can't agree on whether private sellers should have to store records of private gun sales.

This May 16, 2012 file photo shows Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. gesturing during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington.
This May 16, 2012 file photo shows Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. gesturing during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
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