Schiff seeks new penalties for gun traffickers

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) has drafted proposed new penalties for criminals who illegally purchase and smuggle firearms into Mexico, saying he hopes his measure will bring "something positive" out of the uproar over the Fast and Furious gun-tracking operation on the Southwest Border.

Schiff said he will introduce legislation Thursday to create a two-year prison sentence for so-called "straw purchasers" who currently receive probation or very little jail time for acquiring weapons under false pretenses and then selling them to Mexican gun smugglers.

In the Fast and Furious operation run by theBureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Arizona, where hundreds of weapons ended up with Mexican drug cartels, only a handful of straw purchasers were ever charged. The operation was designed to track down large-scale weapons smugglers, and Schiff believes his legislation will force the purchasers to cooperate with federal law enforcement in order to avoid the two years in prison.

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-- Richard A. Serrano, Los Angeles Times

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