Senator Patrick Leahy, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, will roll out a compromise proposal — with bipartisan support — on a key piece of Obama’s gun control agenda: The measure designed to crack down on gun trafficking and so-called “straw purchasers.” Senate aides familiar with the talks tell me that Senator Susan Collins will support the measure today — a real breakthrough in terms of getting Republican support for significant legislative action on guns. Collins’ office didn’t immediately return an email requesting comment. The other Senators supporting this measure are Kirsten Gillibrand, who has had a leading role in pushing it, Mark Kirk (a second Republican attaching his name to the bill), Dick Durbin, and Leahy. The bill will be marked up in committee later this week.
The new legislation will blend two previously existing proposals — one championed by Leahy and Durbin; the other by Gillibrand and Kirk — into one bill. As one aide put it to me: “This legislation will for the first time make gun trafficking a federal crime in order to provide tools to law enforcement to get illegal guns off the streets and away from criminal networks and street gangs. Currently, there is no federal law that defines gun trafficking as a crime.” The measure will also stiffen penalties for “straw purchasers” who knowingly buy guns for those who are not supposed to have them — a practice that many law enforcement groups and other experts believe contributes to gun violence...
...UPDATE: Senator Collins spokesman Kevin Kelley confirms to me that she will announce the legislation today with Senator Leahy.
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