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Reps. Torres, Engel, and Clarke Introduce Bill to Stop Gun Trafficking to Mexico

March 22, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, Reps. Norma J. Torres (D-CA), Eliot L. Engel (D-NY), and Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY) introduced legislation to stem the flow of firearms across the U.S.-Mexico Border. The “Countering Illegal Firearms Trafficking to Mexico Act” includes several common-sense measures to strengthen border security and crack down on the transnational criminal organizations that profit from the illegal arms trade.


The new bill would expand a current requirement to report multiple rifle sales to ATF. It would also make gun trafficking a federal crime punishable by twenty years in prison. Furthermore, it would require agencies tasked with countering firearms to improve coordination; measurement of progress; and information sharing.


“President Trump has proposed spending billions of taxpayer dollars building a wall between the United States of Mexico that will do little to secure the border and has only offended our Mexican and Latin American allies in the process,” said Rep. Torres, a Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and founder and co-Chair of the Central America Caucus. “My Democratic colleagues and I have a cheaper and much more effective proposal for securing the border and keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals.”


“Trafficking illegal guns to and from Mexico is currently not a federal crime. It really doesn’t get much crazier than that,” said Rep. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “This is just another example of how incredibly lax our gun laws are. Gun runners can cross state and international borders right now without fear of federal prosecution. The federal government is also prohibited from compiling data on this type of activity, also due to our arcane gun laws. This is obvious, commonsense stuff that has been stymied by the gun lobby for far too long.  If we’re going to get serious about keeping Americans safe, we have to address this obvious issue. The Countering Illegal Firearms Trafficking to Mexico Act will go a long way to addressing some of the biggest shortfalls in our guns laws. I thank Congresswoman Torres for her work, and I am proud to join her on this bill.”


“The gun violence epidemic in our country is out of control.  Here in Brooklyn, hundreds of people have been needlessly killed over the past few years alone. To address this matter, I am proud to introduce the Countering Illegal Firearms Trafficking to Mexico Act,” said Rep. Yvette Clarke.  “This bill will criminalize firearms trafficking and add robust reporting requirements to curb the shipment of guns across state or international borders. I thank Congresswoman Torres and Congressman Engel for their leadership on this issue and call upon my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass this important bill.”


President Trump and his administration have repeatedly expressed interest in addressing the problem of cross-border gun trafficking. A week after his inauguration, President Trump discussed the issue with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.  A joint statement noted that “the importance of the friendship between the two nations, and the need for the two nations to work together to stop drug cartels, drug trafficking and illegal guns and arms sales.” A February 9, 2017 Executive Order entitled “Enforcing Federal Law with Respect to Transnational Criminal Organizations and Preventing International Trafficking” promised to deal with illegal gun trafficking, but provided scant details.


Reps. Torres, Engel, and Clarke are all members of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force in the House of Representatives.  The full text of the legislation can be found HERE, and a section-by-section summary can be found HERE