Under the new Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, it is a federal crime to traffic in firearms and penalties are stiffened for “straw purchases” on behalf of people who aren’t allowed to own guns. Federal prosecutors have charged 31 people in 17 cases under the law, reports USA Today. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives spokeswoman Carolyn Collins say the statute offers “powerful new tools.” haCnges to the federal Gun Control Act “are designed to enhance ATF’s ability to identify, deter, and investigate those who illegally divert firearms from lawful commerce,” Collins said. The first case under the law charged Said Hernandez, 26, of Laredo, Tex., who began a seven-year prison term for gun trafficking this week. Police intercepted Hernandez traveling south towards the Mexican border with 17 firearms. Since 2020, he purchased 231 handguns in Texas in calibers of 9mm, .380 and .22 and trafficked them to Mexico.
ATF says straw purchasing can now carry a 25-year prison sentence if the gun is used in a terrorism attack or drug trafficking. Defendants often plead down charges from trafficking or straw purchasing to lesser offenses. Gun trafficking involves diversion of guns from lawful commerce into the illegal market. The new legislation defines gun trafficking under a stand-alone statute that makes it illegal to “ship, transport, transfer, cause to be transported, or otherwise dispose of any firearm to another person in or otherwise affecting interstate or foreign commerce, if such person knows or has reasonable cause to believe that the use, carrying, or possession of a firearm by the recipient would constitute a felony." This year, federal agents in Las Vegas kept a watch on Adrian Quebec, 21, after he posted on his Instagram account stories about the sales of several firearms. Agents used confidential informants to perform controlled buys of at least seven firearms. A criminal complaint alleges Quebec drew attention for selling handguns affixed with what the ATF describes as “machine gun conversion devices” or “Glock switches,” which bypass the semi-automatic functions of a pistol to fire automatically. Quebec entered a plea agreement for three years in prison.