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Quigley Introduces Bill to Crack Down on the Illegal Gun Market

Jul 30, 2015
Press Release

WASHINGTON — Yesterday, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05) introduced the Trafficking Reduction and Criminal Enforcement (TRACE) Act, which cracks down on the illegal gun market by improving gun tracking data and repealing the Tiahrt Amendments, which hamper law enforcement’s pursuit of criminals who buy and sell illegal guns.  

“With 36 Chicagoans shot and killed in a six day span this week and an average of 90 Americans killed by gunshot every day in this country, it is time to get serious about ending the gun violence epidemic in America,” said Rep. Quigley. “That is why I introduced the TRACE Act, which would help keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of dangerous people, close the loopholes that allow criminals to gain access to illicit guns, and choke off the supply to traffickers.”

“For over a decade, the Tiahrt restrictions have hampered our nation's law enforcement officials and kept the public in the dark about gun traffickers,” said John Feinblatt, President of Everytown for Gun Safety, a movement of Americans working together to end gun violence and build safer communities. “By removing these dangerous restrictions on gun dealer oversight and sharing of gun crime trace data, this bill would restore access to critical information that works toward protecting our communities and give the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) the tools necessary to more effectively combat gun violence. We applaud Congressman Quigley's efforts to provide the ATF and law enforcement the resources required to protect Americans from gun violence.” 

Original co-sponsors of the TRACE Act include Reps. Antonio Cardenas (CA-29), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), David Cicilline (RI-01), Mark Pocan (WI-02), David Price (NC-04), James P. McGovern (MA-02), and Raul M. Grijalva (AZ-03).

While criminals often obtain guns on the black market, those guns generally originate from licensed dealers.  Although the vast majority of gun dealers follow the law, a huge proportion of crime guns come from a handful of unscrupulous vendors.  In 2000, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) estimated that 57 percent of crime guns came from 1.2 percent of licensed dealers.  

Under the TRACE Act:

  • Background check records would be maintained for a minimum of 180 days. The Tiahrt Amendment currently requires 24 hour record destruction, making it nearly impossible to catch law-breaking gun dealers who falsify their records or track straw purchasers who buy guns on behalf of criminals.
  • Gun dealers would be required to perform inventory checks to report lost and stolen guns, a measure currently prohibited under the Tiahrt Amendments.  If law-abiding dealers reported inventories, the ATF would be much more effective at identifying lost and stole weapons and combating corrupt gun dealers.  In 2007, the ATF found 30,000 guns missing from dealer inventories based on its inspection of just fewer than 10 percent of gun dealers.  
  • New firearms would include a second, hidden serial number located inside the receiver, which could only be removed by dismantling the entire weapon.  Violent criminals, including the perpetrator of the shootings at Virginia Tech, have attempted to thwart law enforcement by removing serial numbers on thousands of guns recovered in crimes each year.  

Rep. Quigley has a long history of pushing for commonsense gun control reforms since his election to Congress in 2009. Most recently, Rep. Quigley urged his colleagues to start the conversation about the gun violence epidemic in America on the House floor. As the only Illinois member of the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Quigley offered an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2016 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill that would end the incomprehensible ban on CDC research on gun violence. In February 2014, Rep. Quigley hosted a roundtable discussion at DePaul University highlighting the plague of gun violence in Chicago.