The truth is that the nation does have statutes outlawing gun trafficking, as well as related laws that can be used to prosecute so-called straw purchasers, i.e., eligible gun buyers who obtain a firearm for someone who is ineligible to buy one.
However, many law enforcement officials – and a growing number of legislators from both parties – insist that existing laws are too frail and that a specific statute against straw purchasing is needed to give federal agents more legal firepower to crack down on gun trafficking.
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.