Gun Smugglers Could Face Tougher Punishments

Legislation waiting to be approved by Gov. Rick Perry creates new state punishments for smuggling weapons illegally across the Texas-Mexico border.

Attorney General Greg Abbott, Sen. John Carona of Dallas and Rep. Frank Corte of San Antonio say the bill will give more legal tools to state law officers. Most of the guns smuggled into Mexico and sold to criminals come from Texas, where buying a gun is easy. Mexico has strict gun-control laws.

Smuggling guns that were knowingly acquired illegally would now be a third-degree felony in Texas, and a second-degree felony if three or more firearms are involved. The legislation unanimously passed the Senate last month and the House last week.

Carona said the law "will help stem the flow of weapons out of our state and into the hands of the dangerous Mexican drug cartels."

Before passage of the bill, illegal firearms trafficking was not a state crime, according to Abbott's office. Abbott said the legislation does not apply to legally obtained weapons.

"This law doesn't do anything with regard to law-abiding citizens, who follow the law in obtaining a gun. What it does, though, it strikes a blow against those who are obtaining guns illegally and then transporting those to Mexico," Abbott said.

Federal law prohibits firearms from being taken across the border into Mexico.

The state legislation defines unlawful weapons as contraband, so smuggled weapons could be subject to asset forfeiture proceedings.

The gun smuggling legislation is SB2225.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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