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Schatz Introduces New Bill To Boost Federal Funding To Help States Keep Communities Safe, Support Law Enforcement, Reduce Gun Violence

Bill Establishes New Grant Program To Help States Strengthen Oversight Of Gun Dealers

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) today introduced new legislation to help states support law enforcement, keep communities safe, and reduce gun violence. The State Firearms Dealer Licensing Enhancement Act would establish a new grant program for states to develop or improve firearm dealer licensing programs. Companion legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives by U.S. Representative Joe Morelle (D-N.Y.).

“One of the best things we can do to support law enforcement and stop violent crimes is making sure we have protections in place that will keep dangerous guns out of the hands of people who aren’t legally allowed to have them. That includes strengthening state programs that are helping stop gun trafficking by some irresponsible gun dealers,” said Senator Schatz.

Several states, including Hawai‘i, require firearms dealers who hold a federal firearms license to also obtain a state license to engage in the business of selling firearms. These programs supplement the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ regulatory functions, including inspecting federal firearms licensees for compliance with the law. States with licensing and inspections programs have among the lowest rates of gun violence in the country, and states that oversee gun dealers have been found to have significantly lower rates of intrastate gun trafficking.

Schatz’s legislation would help strengthen these state programs with new grant funding. These funds would allow states to put additional resources toward conducting gun dealer inspections, as well as invest in new technologies and systems that will optimize existing inspection and licensing regimes.

The State Firearms Dealer Licensing Enhancement Act is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawai‘i), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Bob Casey (D-Penn.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.),  Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), John Fetterman (D-Pa.), and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.).

“Each year, hundreds of thousands of firearms are sold in the illegal marketplace, flooding communities and devastating families. To combat the increasing amount of illegal guns on our streets and reduce gun violence, states need resources to improve gun industry oversight, and ensure all firearms are sold legally and responsibly in order to hold members of the gun industry accountable when they engage in risky behavior that contributes to gun violence. Improving and strengthening state oversight is a proven way to decrease gun trafficking and Brady is grateful to Rep. Morelle and Sen. Schatz for their steadfast leadership on this issue,” said Kris Brown, President of Brady.

The bill is supported by Brady, Giffords, Everytown, and the Community Justice Action Fund.

The full text of the bill is available here.