Consensus on gun control has been hard to find on Capitol Hill, but Tuesday a bipartisan group of lawmakers will introduce legislation that won't affect one single lawful gun owner, but instead go after illegal buyers.
"For too long, we have been handcuffing the wrong people. We have made it too hard for law enforcement to stop guns from getting into the hands of criminals and too easy for criminals to get their hands on guns. With this bill we can begin to turn that around and slap the handcuffs where they belong," says New York Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney. "Americans have been very clear: they want something done about the scourge of gun violence and they want bipartisan cooperation in Washington. At this moment, this bill is a step toward achieving both."
Maloney, Maryland Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings, Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Patrick Meehan and Virginia Republican Rep. Scott Rigell drafted a bill that would make straw purchasing, buying guns for those who cannot legally attain them, a federal crime. They are scheduled to formally introduce the bill Tuesday afternoon. Perpetrators of gun trafficking could face up to 20 years in prison.
"It surprised me there was not a law on our books, a federal law that addressed gun trafficking," Rigell said during an appearance on MSNBC's "Morning Joe Tuesday." "We're addressing that. It's common sense and common ground."
Lawmakers say the bill will make it easier for law enforcement officers to trace arms trafficking networks by giving police the authority to place extra penalties on the leaders of the networks,
The bipartisan bill comes at a time when lawmakers are tackling other measures to prevent gun violence, but are having a tough time finding a solution that is politically palatable to both Republicans and Democrats.
In the Senate, lawmakers have introduced bills on everything from closing the so-called gun show loophole, which allows buyers to purchase guns without a background check from unlicensed dealers, to a new assault weapons ban, which would limit high-capacity magazines and certain types of semi-automatic weapons.
However, even in the wake of the December 14 mass shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut, passing legislation on anything from background checks to high-capacity magazines seems like an uphill climb. The National Rifle Association, a gun lobbying group, has said repeatedly they do not support "universal background checks" nor do they support limiting gun owners' access to semi-automatic weapons.