WASHINGTON -- Less than six months after Mayor Thomas M. Menino joined with New York City's Michael R. Bloomberg to lead a national campaign against illegal guns, Bay State and Empire State lawmakers will introduce a bill in the House to stiffen penalties for gun trafficking.
The Nemorin and Andrews Anti-Gun Trafficking Act , named for two New York police detectives killed in 2003 while investigating gun traffickers, is a reprise of a bill introduced that year by the same cosponsors, Representatives Martin T. Meehan , Democrat of Lowell, and Peter King , Republican of New York. The bill would create federal offenses for gun traffickers and criminals who use firearms that are stolen or have obliterated serial numbers.
The 2003 bill did not come up for a vote after being referred to a subcommittee. The new bill will probably face opposition from gun rights groups, and King acknowledged ``it may be difficult" to pass.
But King, who is now chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, added that a renewed national focus on gun trafficking could aid the bill's chances in the House.
``I think the climate has changed somewhat in the last several years," King said.
Added Meehan, flanked by King and New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly: ``If you ask any police chief anywhere, they'll tell you that putting an end to gun trafficking is critical."
Illegal guns were used in 51 homicides last year in Boston, Meehan said.
Pressure rose on Menino last year because of a dramatic rise in area gun violence. He announced in January that he and Bloomberg would rally other big-city mayors to fight illegal gun trafficking. Menino and Bloomberg met with 13 other mayors in April at New York's Gracie Mansion, where the group discussed a plan to support federal anti gun legislation. More than 50 mayors are now involved.
``This sends a clear message that leaders at the federal level are hearing what Mayor Menino and Mayor Bloomberg are saying, that illegal gun violence and gun trafficking will not be tolerated," said Seth Gitell , Menino's press secretary.
Meehan lauded the mayors for bringing attention to the issue.
`` I think in order to get a piece of legislation like this passed, you really need to organize people in a way that both Mayor Menino and Mayor Bloomberg have," he said.
A spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association said the group had not had a chance to review the legislation.