Sun Sentinel: Ted Deutch, other Democrats want crackdown on ‘illegal and reckless’ gun dealers

Sun Sentinel: Ted Deutch, other Democrats want crackdown on ‘illegal and reckless’ gun dealers

By Anthony Man

A trio of Democratic members of Congress introduced legislation Tuesday aimed at cracking down on “bad actor” gun dealers who provide the overwhelming majority of weapons used in crime.

The lawmakers, including U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, who represents most of Broward and southeast Palm Beach county, introduced the “Keeping Gun Dealers Honest Act” on the two-year anniversary of the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, in which 49 people were killed.

Deutch represents Parkland, where 17 people were killed and 17 injured in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre in February.

“Tragedy after tragedy we are told that we don’t need any new gun laws, that we should just enforce the laws on the books. But in too many cases, we’ve seen that the laws on the books are practically unenforceable. The combination of stringent standards and depleted budgets put ATF inspectors in an impossible situation,” Deutch said in a statement. “Recent reports show that many gun dealers who illegally sell weapons to people who have proven that they are not responsible gun owners routinely get a free pass — even after repeated violations.”

The proposal is aimed at gun dealers “engaging in illegal and reckless behavior are punished under the full extent of the law,” U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wis., said in a statement.

The lawmakers cited a study about so-called bad-actor gun dealers from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. It found 5 percent of gun dealers supply 90 percent of guns used in crime.

Prospects for the Democratic-sponsored legislation in the Republican-controlled Congress are poor. Public opinion shows large percentages of Americans favor some restrictions on guns, but the congressional leadership doesn’t permit action on those measures.

The measure would:

— Authorize increased Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives inspections of gun dealers.

— Strengthen penalties for falsifying gun sales records, including longer prison sentences.

— Add new civil sanctions for gun dealers who violate ATF regulations.

— Give ATF discretion in issuing gun licenses.

— Allow ATF to require dealers to conduct physical inventories if more than 10 guns used in crimes are traced back to them.

The proposal is also sponsored by U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin, D-Rhode Island. U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., plans to introduce a Senate version of the bill.