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Bipartisan Federal Legislation Could Stem the Flow of Illegal Guns to Syracuse

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Scott Willis
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WAER News

  Law enforcement officials  and gun safety advocates say the key to reducing the gun violence in Syracuse is to stop the flood of guns trafficked here from other states.  Mayor Stephanie Miner and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand convened a roundtable discussion Friday at the Southwest Community Center to discuss proposed federal legislation that would make gun trafficking across state lines a crime. 

"Right now there's no federal law to prevent someone in Georgia from loading up the back of his pick-up truck, bringing the guns straight up I-95, and selling them directly to gang members here in Syracuse.  There's no federal crime that our FBI or law enforcement can use to put that person in jail.  We want to make sure this is a federal crime so gang members, dangerous people, and people aren't eligible to buy guns from licensed dealers don't have such an easy time getting weapons." 

  

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Credit Scott Willis / WAER News
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WAER News
From left, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Southwick (back to camera), Mayor Stephanie Miner, and Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler.

  Gillibrand says New York has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation.  But she says only federal legislation will crack down on that gun agent in Georgia looking to unload them here in New York.

“He sells them to criminals who he knows will readily pay whatever price he's asking.  They can't go to Wal Mart to buy a weapon because they can't pass a background check, or they can't even go to a gun show.”                            

Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Southwick confirmed the cruel irony of New York’s tough laws.  He told the roundtable the state has become a magnet for black market firearms which can sell here for three times their purchase price down south.  Senator Gillibrand says a gun kingpin who’s involved in a trafficking plan that involved five or more people could face up to 25 years in prison.  Police Chief Frank Fowler says police recovered nearly 300 guns last year…that’s 64 more than in 2014.  Gun safety advocates say chances are a vast majority of them were trafficked from other states.  

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Tonya Dugan of Phoenix, NY is with the local chapter of the national group Moms Demand Action. She expresses her concerns about neighbors who own guns in her rural community.
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Credit Scott Willis / WAER News
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WAER News
Elected officials, law enforcement, and community advocates gather to discuss federal legislation that would ban the trafficking of guns over state lines.