Gun Trafficker Detection Act Won't Do Squat

(AP Photo/Matt York, File)

On September 14th, 2021 Representative Casten with Reps Kelly and Deutch introduced H.R.5245 – Gun Trafficker Detection Act. Noted at the bottom of a press release the bill is endorsed by Newtown Action, Everytown for Gun Safety, Brady and Giffords. Given that information and perhaps the fact that Casten is from Illinois, we can assume that this is a measure we won’t be supporting. Taking a look at the bill’s alleged intent, we can turn to Casten’s release:

 As 2021 is set to be the deadliest year of gun violence in decades, efforts by states like Illinois to prevent gun violence are often undermined by weak gun laws in neighboring states like Indiana. Over 5,500 illegally possessed guns were seized by Chicago police in the first six months of 2021 alone. In Illinois in 2019, guns trafficked across state lines comprise about 63% of the total number of illegally possessed guns. Illinois is not alone—in states with extensive gun safety measures, like New York and New Jersey, 79 percent and 72 percent of recovered crime guns originated out of state, respectively. The Gun Trafficker Detection Act is poised to prevent further trafficking of illegal guns and decrease the number of violent crimes involving guns.

This is the second time this week that I’m reporting on an Illinois politician blaming Chicago’s crime on other states. I find it grossly irresponsible that these political hacks keep passing the buck and refuse to hold the local and state leaderships accountable. But apparently Casten has the key to fixing all the problems by mandating something on the rest of the country. Which, interestingly enough, don’t have the same problems of the Windy City. Further, for Casten to discuss states like New York and New Jersey as examples of other areas that have a large amount of firearms that come from out of state is moot, as they are both states or states with localities which are failures when it comes to crime. Casten had this to say:

“As our children head back to school, parents across the country face a terrifying reality that their kids could become victims of gun violence. The people of Illinois have been loud and clear: We want to keep our children safe from the scourge of gun violence. But our state laws are continually undermined by the pitiful gun safety laws of our neighboring states, enabling traffickers to bring deadly weapons across our borders and into the hands of those who should not have them. Each year, we see thousands of stolen or trafficked guns used in violent crime. The Gun Trafficker Detection Act will help law enforcement address this issue with the seriousness it demands and prevent needless deaths caused in our communities by trafficked weapons.”

Above are Casten’s remarks again blaming Chicago and Illinois’s issues on everyone else. He claims this bill will help “…prevent needless deaths caused in our communities by trafficked weapons.” Taking a look at the bill text, let’s see how Casten’s idea will help prevent these deaths:

(1) Within 48 hours after a person not licensed under this chapter who owns a firearm that has been shipped or transported in, or has been possessed in or affecting, interstate or foreign commerce, discovers or should have discovered the theft or loss of the firearm, the person shall report the theft or loss to the Attorney General. If the report to the Attorney General is not submitted through a web portal created by the Attorney General for such purpose, the person shall report the theft or loss to local law enforcement authorities.

“(2) Within 72 hours after the Attorney General receives a report through the web portal pursuant to paragraph (1), the Attorney General shall notify the chief law enforcement officer of the jurisdiction in which the theft or loss occurred of the name and address of the reporting person.”.

(2) CREATION OF WEB-BASED PORTAL FOR REPORTING.—Within 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Attorney General shall create a web-based electronic portal, which members of the public may use to report the theft or loss of a firearm to the Attorney General pursuant to section 922(aa) of title 18, United States Code, that includes a notice to users of the penalties under section 924(a)(1) of such title for knowingly making a false statement or representation in such a report.

(3) PENALTIES.—Section 924 of such title is amended by adding at the end the following:
“(q) With respect to a violation of section 922(aa), the Attorney General shall, after notice and opportunity for a hearing—
“(1) (A) in the case of a first violation, subject the person to a civil money penalty of not more than $1,000; or
“(B) in the case of a second or subsequent violation, subject the person to a civil money penalty of not more than $5,000; and
“(2) in the case of any violation, notify the person of the prohibitions set forth in section 922(bb).”.
(b) Prohibition On Firearm Receipt After Multiple Convictions.—
(1) IN GENERAL.—Section 922 of such title, as amended by subsection (a)(1) of this section, is amended by adding at the end the following:
“(bb) (1) It shall be unlawful for a person who has been twice assessed a civil money penalty under section 924(q) to receive a firearm during the 1-year period that begins with the date of the most recent such assessment.
“(2) It shall be unlawful for a person who has been thrice assessed a civil money penalty under section 924(q) to receive a firearm during the 5-year period that begins with the date of the most recent such assessment.”.

I would like representative Casten to specifically and directly explain to us peasants how imposing more fines and penalties on people is going to save lives. To report or not report stolen firearms is a matter of post criminal activity. The firearms are gone. What makes Casten think that the police forces are going to chase down who may or may not have stolen a firearm when his beloved Chicago is already overridden with criminal activity? Yes, the police do investigate the crime of stolen guns. As a matter of fact, I have a couple of friends that had guns stolen that were recovered by the police. Reporting stolen firearms are in our own best interests. John Q. Public that does not report their gun stolen is supposed to get a fine? John Q. Public who was just a victim of a crime has their own vested interest in reporting a firearm stolen. Should someone have their firearms stolen more than once and they are penalized, they lose their gun rights for a year. Three infractions, loss of gun rights for five years? Wow.

The absurdity of trying to stage this as anything that will “save lives” is crazy. This is more penalties for people. This is more disqualifiers. The matter of having a database of stolen guns, that’s a whole other topic. To paint this as a picture of being a champion of “gun safety” is a fantasy.

The press release goes on with more absurd commentary. If you’re so inclined, read the whole release HERE. The ending remarks before summarizing what this bill would do really put the cherry on top:

The Gun Trafficker Detection Act would work to prevent gun trafficking and future violent crimes related to gun violence in the US. While federal law requires firearm dealers to report firearms that are lost or stolen from their inventory to local authorities and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), it does not currently require gun owners to report lost or stolen firearms to law enforcement.

That’s a no. This bill, if it were to become a law, would prevent nothing.

A more compelling idea, as we look through all these proposals, if a politician comes from an area with a high crime rate, they don’t get to dictate what the rest of the country does when it comes to public safety. If they can clean up their house and show that they’re able to hold themselves accountable, without blaming neighboring states or “the iron pipeline”, then we can bring you to the table. Right now, what you’re doing in Chicago is not working. What’s happening in California, Hawaii, New York, New Jersey, Maryland – all firearm restrictive states, none of what these jurisdictions are doing is working. Camden New Jersey is the only area to see an appreciable improvement in overall crime and violent crime lately.

This do-nothing bill is not liable to make it to the Biden-Harris desk. However, if it does, it’s not going to make any of us safer. It’s only going to add charges to crimes, and in this case, someone that did not even commit the crime. As with all these freedom limiting measures, we’ll be keeping our eyes on how this bill progresses.