Virtually all weapons recovered at crime scenes are purchased from licensed firearms dealers, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Of firearms used in crime, 20 percent go from a licensed dealer to a crime scene in two years or less, according to an analysis by Mayors Against Illegal Guns. The man who in December ambushed firefighters in upstate New York as they responded to a blaze, killing two, was an ex-felon who had obtained weapons through a straw buyer, police have noted.
Of the gun legislation put forward since the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, measures to combat gun trafficking and straw purchases have drawn the widest bipartisan support. Sen. Charles Grassley (R) of Iowa said last week that he would work with Senator Leahy on the two gun issues. (Leahy has introduced legislation to do just that.) Meanwhile, Sens. Mark Kirk (R) of Illinois and Kirsten Gillibrand (D) of New York are sponsoring similar legislation. And on the House side, a bipartisan group of four lawmakers led by Reps. Elijah Cummings (D) of Maryland and Scott Rigell (R) of Virginia unveiled a similar bill on Tuesday.