Washington – Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) joined Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today in introducing the Keeping Gun Dealers Honest Act, legislation that would strengthen accountability measures for gun dealers to ensure they are not engaging in illegal gun sales and to provide the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) with clear enforcement mechanisms. According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, just five percent of gun dealers supply 90 percent of crime guns used in the United States. While the majority of gun dealers follow the law, a small number of delinquent gun dealers are recklessly perpetuating the epidemic of gun violence in this country.
This legislation would ensure that guns do not end up in the wrong hands by authorizing increased inspections of gun dealers to ensure compliance standards are met, increasing penalties for serious offenses, and strengthening the Department of Justice’s authority and discretion in enforcing gun laws.
“We have seen the devastating consequences of not holding gun dealers who engage in illegal sales practices accountable,” said Senator Markey. “By increasing inspections and penalties, we can decrease the number of guns falling in to the wrong hands. And by strengthening accountability measures for all gun dealers and equipping ATF with the tools to enforce the law, we can prevent further gun violence from occurring.”
A copy of the legislation can be found here.
Among other provisions, the Keeping Gun Dealers Honest Act would increase the permitted number of ATF inspections of firearms dealers from one to three per year; strengthen criminal penalties for dealers who knowingly violate the law by committing serious record-keeping offenses that aid gun trafficking; permit ATF some discretion in issuing gun licenses; and provide the ATF with more flexible enforcement mechanisms.
In addition to Feinstein, the legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).
Representative Jim Langevin (RI-02) introduced companion legislation with his colleagues Representatives Ted Deutch (FL-22) and Gwen Moore (WI-04) in the House of Representatives in May.
“The vast majority of gun dealers are responsible and law-abiding, but there are a few bad actors out there that supply most of the guns used in crimes across the nation. Supporting ATF and strengthening measures to hold these dealers accountable are critical steps to comprehensively addressing the gun violence epidemic in our communities,” said Congressman Langevin. “I thank Senator Markey for recognizing the importance of this legislation and for introducing it in the Senate.”
The legislation is supported by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence united with Million Mom March, Everytown for Gun Safety, March For Our Lives, and Stop Handgun Violence.
“Most gun dealers follow the law, but we’ve seen the damage that bad gun dealers can inflict upon a community when they fail to perform background checks or sell to people who shouldn’t have guns, putting profits over human lives,” said Avery Gardiner, Co-President of the Brady Campaign. “Simply put, these people put us all at risk. If the Attorney General isn’t going to follow through on his pledge to crack down on illegal guns, then we’ll need to turn to Congress to pass laws that will. This bill would accomplish exactly that, and we’re proud to support this important legislation.”
“We support this important legislation sponsored by Senator Markey in the Senate,” said John Rosenthal, founder and president of Stop Handgun Violence. “While some gun dealers follow the laws diligently, others are skirting responsibility for their role in illegal gun trafficking through weak record keeping and lack of accountability in sales practices. We support measures that would increase oversight of dealers and strengthen penalties for failing to meet ATF requirements.”
“It’s just a matter of basic fairness,” said Charlie Mirsky of March for Our Lives. “Right now, honest gun dealers who play by the rules are being given a bad name by unscrupulous dealers who sell to convicted felons and the mentally ill. This bill adds no new restrictions on who can legally purchase a gun. It just makes sure that honest gun dealers are given a fair shake. March for Our Lives wholeheartedly supports the commonsense legislation being introduced by Senator Markey.”
“Moms Demand Action and Everytown for Gun Safety are proud supporters of this bill,” said Heather Wilks-Jones of the Massachusetts Chapter of Moms Demand Action. “We urge Congress to protect families and communities by passing the Keep Gun Dealers Honest Act to ensure that bad actor gun dealers are held accountable.”