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Black Law Enforcement Officers Support the Need to Extend Checks to Stop Straw Purchasers and Profiteering Gun Traffickers from Saturating Our Communities with Guns

Dated: Sunday March 23, 2014

In a recent media statement, Neil Franklin, Executive Director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), indicated that the proliferation of gun violence in the Black community was directly related to the sales of illegal drugs, seemingly disregarding the impact that common sense gun laws have already had in reducing gun violence in our communities. Specifically, the Brady Law has stopped 2.1 million fugitives, felons, domestic abusers and other prohibited people from legally acquiring guns. That’s an average of 343 attempts to buy guns by all types of prohibited people that are stopped each and every day for the past 20 years. That’s an average of 19 fugitives, 48 domestic abusers, and 171 convicted felons stopped each and every day for the past 20 years.

Still, with the increasing proliferation of unaccountable private gun sales facilitated by means of online, classified and in-person sources (often in and around gun shows), as much as 40% of all current gun sales are conducted without the requirement and preventative benefit of a Brady background check. That needs to change. The American people overwhelmingly support that change. Law enforcement overwhelmingly supports it. Even the majority of gun owners, gun enthusiasts, and gun rights advocates support it.

In a 2013 report by the Pew Research Center, it was noted that 85% of gun owners supported the concept of background checks for the sale of firearms by private owners. Further, we find that the un-registered sale of weapons merely adds to the prolific rate of gun violence, regardless of any correlations to the illicit drug trade. Congress needs to pass Manchin-Toomey and HR1565 now to close this widening loophole in our nation’s gun laws.

While we applaud LEAP’s efforts to reduce the penalties associated with the use and possession of marijuana, particularly in light of recent reports which have indicated that African Americans are likely to be arrested for possession at rates 3.7 times more than their White counterparts, we strongly assert that extending Brady background checks to all gun sales will have a dramatic, positive impact in reducing gun violence that disproportionately plagues our communities. Indeed, LEAP’s recent statement further substantiates the need for extending existing Brady background checks to private sales by pointing out the profit motive driving the gun traffickers’ who exploit our nation’s lax gun laws to saturate communities of color with guns, provide violent criminals with easy access to guns, and drive up the level and lethality of violence in our communities and urban centers.

NABLEO firmly believes that extending existing Brady background checks to all guns sales will further tighten the supply of guns to prohibited people by reducing the ability of gun traffickers and straw purchasers to gain exorbitant profits from their unaccountable diversion of legal guns to illegal buyers. We further support enactment of stronger federal crimes for straw purchasing and gun trafficking, as well as more access to gun violence data for research, outreach and prevention through more data-driven education of people and communities, such as women of color related to the impacts of being coerced into acting as a “straw purchaser” for a prohibited person.

NABLEO strongly supports the individual right of citizens to own guns, consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Second Amendment, and allowing for reasonable regulation of guns. Holding gun owners, dealers, manufacturers and other sellers accountable for safely storing, using, maintaining, and transferring their firearms to ONLY other law abiding citizens is fundamental to our way of life. Securing guns from those who are, or become, prohibited persons, as the State of California currently does very successfully, is equally fundamental to individual officers’ and the public’s safety for the future.

The National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers, Inc, a 501.(c).(3) non-profit, is a premier national organization representing the interests and concerns of African American, Latino and other criminal justice practitioners of color serving in law enforcement, corrections, and investigative agencies throughout the United States, and the communities in which they serve.

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