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Senators craft bill on gun trafficking

Senator Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat


Senator Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, said the bill would establish tough penalties for those who buy a firearm or ammunition with the intent of transferring it to someone else.

WASHINGTON — Gun trafficking and the straw purchasing of firearms would become federal crimes under bipartisan legislation disclosed by five senators Monday.

Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, said the bill would establish tough penalties for those who buy a firearm or ammunition with the intent of transferring it to someone else. The measure would also make it a crime to smuggle firearms out of the United States.

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Leahy said there is no federal law now that defines either gun trafficking or straw purchasing — when a person who can legally buy guns transfers them to criminals and others barred from ownership — as crimes.

The bill was crafted by Leahy, fellow Democrats Dick Durbin of Illinois and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, and Republicans Mark Kirk of Illinois and Susan Collins of Maine.

The legislation will be taken up by the Judiciary Committee on Thursday as part of a package of four bills aimed at reducing gun violence. The others involve regulating assault weapons, enhancing school safety, and requiring background checks for all firearm sales.


Menendez bill could have helped donor’s investment

WASHINGTON — Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, sponsored legislation with incentives for natural gas vehicle conversions that would benefit the biggest political donor to his reelection, the same eye doctor whose private jet Menendez used for two personal trips to the Dominican Republic, according to an Associated Press investigation.

The finding reflects the latest intersection between Menendez, who is the subject of an ethics inquiry, and the Florida doctor involved in a federal criminal investigation.

Dr. Salomon Melgen invested in Gaseous Fuel Systems Corp. of Weston, Fla., and joined its board of directors in early 2010, according to the company’s chief executive and a former company consultant. GFS, as the company is known, designs, manufactures, and sells products to convert diesel fuel fleets to natural gas.

The amount of Melgen’s investment is confidential under rules of the Securities and Exchange Commission, but a 2009 document filed with the SEC showed the company required a minimum individual investment at that time of $51,500.


Sanford among group vying for S.C. congressional seat

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Mark Sanford, the former Republican governor of South Carolina, is among a slew of candidates sprinting toward the state’s March 17 congressional primary.

Sixteen Republicans and two Democrats are vying to represent a redrawn district along the coast through Charleston and Hilton Head.

Forgiveness has been Sanford’s comeback theme. He said that what he has been through since having an extramarital affair in 2009 has made him a more compassionate — though no less conservative — candidate.

The special election was called to fill the seat formerly held by Tim Scott, a Republican appointed to the Senate last year. In addition to Sanford, the Republican field includes Teddy Turner, the teacher son of media mogul Ted Turner; two powerful legislators; a retired sheriff; and a Libertarian.

For the Democrats, the candidates are Ben Frasier and Elizabeth Colbert Busch, a businesswoman and the sister of Comedy Central host Stephen Colbert.


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