Casten, Kelly, Deutch Reintroduce Bill to Reduce Gun Trafficking as 2021 Projected to be the Deadliest Year of Gun Violence in Decades

September 10, 2021
Press Release
Representatives’ legislation would create a federal requirement that gun owners must report their gun if lost or stolen within 48 hours

Washington, D.C. — Today, U.S. Representatives Sean Casten (IL-06), Robin Kelly (IL-02), and Ted Deutch (FL-22) introduced the Gun Trafficker Detection Act which would require gun owners to report if their gun is lost or stolen within 48 hours. 


As 2021 is set to be the deadliest year of gun violence in decades, efforts by states like Illinois to prevent gun violence are often undermined by weak gun laws in neighboring states like Indiana. Over 5,500 illegally possessed guns were seized by Chicago police in the first six months of 2021 alone. In Illinois in 2019, guns trafficked across state lines comprise about 63% of the total number of illegally possessed guns. Illinois is not alone—in states with extensive gun safety measures, like New York and New Jersey, 79 percent and 72 percent of recovered crime guns originated out of state, respectively. The Gun Trafficker Detection Act is poised to prevent further trafficking of illegal guns and decrease the number of violent crimes involving guns.


Rep. Casten said, As our children head back to school, parents across the country face a terrifying reality that their kids could become victims of gun violence. The people of Illinois have been loud and clear: We want to keep our children safe from the scourge of gun violence. But our state laws are continually undermined by the pitiful gun safety laws of our neighboring states, enabling traffickers to bring deadly weapons across our borders and into the hands of those who should not have them. Each year, we see thousands of stolen or trafficked guns used in violent crime. The Gun Trafficker Detection Act will help law enforcement address this issue with the seriousness it demands and prevent needless deaths caused in our communities by trafficked weapons.”


“Stopping gun trafficking is one of the most urgent priorities in preventing gun violence in the Chicagoland area,” said Rep. Robin Kelly, Vice Chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force. “Responsible gun owners should alert law enforcement if their firearm is stolen or lost; this one simple, commonsense action can prevent guns from being used to hurt others in the commission of crimes. This federal requirement will help prevent gun trafficking and save lives in our Chicagoland communities.”


Rep. Deutch said, “We have all been eagerly awaiting a return to ‘normal’ since March 2020. But this wave of gun violence in our schools, stores, homes, and neighborhoods as in-person activities resume should not be normal. A lack of accountability for repeat criminal gun traffickers should never be normal. The guns that are used to commit crimes in our communities often do not start off as illegal weapons. Any plan to combat gun violence in this country must include preventing legal firearms from becoming illegal firearms. This bill is an important step toward cracking down on those illegal streams of firearms, requiring that responsible owners act responsibly, and addressing the public health crisis of gun violence.”


The Gun Trafficker Detection Act would work to prevent gun trafficking and future violent crimes related to gun violence in the US. While federal law requires firearm dealers to report firearms that are lost or stolen from their inventory to local authorities and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), it does not currently require gun owners to report lost or stolen firearms to law enforcement.


Specifically, the Gun Trafficker Detection Act would prevent further trafficking of illegal guns by:

  • Requiring gun owners to report their gun lost or stolen within 48 hours.
  • Helping law enforcement identify and prosecute gun traffickers who often claim their gun was lost or stolen only once it turns up at a crime scene across state lines.
  • Making traffickers liable for any damage done by their guns.
  • Prohibiting repeat violators from purchasing a gun for 5 years.
  • Creating a web-based portal to report a firearm as missing or stolen.


The text of the bill can be found here. A section-by-section overview of the bill can be found here.


The Gun Trafficker Detection Act is endorsed by Newtown Action, Everytown for Gun Safety, Brady and Giffords.


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