Durbin Speaks On Officer French And Straw Purchases Of Firearms

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today spoke on the Senate floor regarding charges that the gun used to kill Chicago Police Department Officer Ella French this weekend was bought in a straw purchase by an Indiana man on behalf of another man who had a felony record and could not lawfully buy a gun for himself.

“I hope that justice is delivered swiftly and fairly for the perpetrators of this horrible crime,” Durbin said. “As heartbreaking as Officer French's death is, it is also infuriating. We learned yesterday from the Chicago U.S. Attorney's Office that the gun used to murder Officer French was straw purchased from a gun dealer in Indiana.”

Durbin is a lead sponsor of federal legislation to combat straw purchasing and illegal trafficking in firearms in order to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals.  The Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act of 2021 would, for the first time, make it an explicit federal crime, carrying felony penalties, to act as a straw purchaser of firearms.  The bill would also create penalties for anyone who transfers a firearm with reasonable cause to believe that it will be used in a drug crime, crime of violence, or act of terrorism. 

“For years I have been fighting to toughen our laws against straw purchases. Right now straw purchasing is treated… as a federal paperwork violation for lying on a federal gun purchase form,” Durbin said. “We need to take this type of gun trafficking seriously. It's time for us to stop treating straw purchases like a paperwork misdemeanor. As we have learned in the death of Officer French, it is a deadly act and should be punished accordingly.”

Today, Durbin sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland urging the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Chicago firearms trafficking Strike Force to immediately prioritize the investigation and prosecution of straw purchases that supply firearms to individuals with felony convictions in the Chicago area. 

Video of Durbin’s floor speech is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s floor speech is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s floor speech is available here for TV Stations.