WASHINGTON– U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) announced they will introduce the Americas Regional Monitoring of Arms Sales (ARMAS) Act to help stem the flow of U.S.-manufactured weapons across the Americas, which threatens regional stability, U.S. security, the lives of Americans and others and endangers U.S. foreign policy goals across the Hemisphere. Evidence has shown that firearms from the U.S. contribute substantially to gang violence, human rights violations and political instability.

The ARMAS Act would transfer small arms authority from the Department of Commerce back to the State Department, require the development of a comprehensive interagency strategy and program to disrupt arms trafficking, and take other steps to improve congressional and administration oversight. As Congress observes Gun Violence Awareness month, similar legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressman Joaquin Castro (Texas-20).

“There is a direct line from the hundreds of thousands of illegal guns trafficked from the U.S. to the violence and political instability in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act made firearms trafficking a federal crime for the first time, but there’s more the federal government can do to crack down on traffickers and ensure illegal guns don’t end up in the hands of gangs and cartels. The ARMAS Act would increase transparency of arms exports and help disrupt trafficking circles to help make communities safer both at home and abroad,” said Murphy.

“From Mexico to Haiti to Ecuador, criminal gangs are using American-made weapons to commit record levels of violence, fueling insecurity throughout the hemisphere and undermining U.S. national interests in the process,” said Cardin. “If we truly care about keeping the American people safe at home and beyond our borders, then it is past time for Congress to prioritize fending off the rampant illegal export and trafficking of firearms. The ARMAS Act would play a pivotal role in advancing this goal by strengthening congressional oversight of how and what kinds of firearms are exported abroad, improving data collection of trafficked firearms, and establishing a whole-of-government effort to ensure U.S. guns don't end up in the hands of the very transnational criminal organizations seeking to do us harm.”

“The illegal trafficking of firearms in the Western Hemisphere is fueling instability, violence, and migration and directly impacts Americans right here at home. We must use all tools at our disposal to ensure U.S. small arms exports arrive at the right destination and do not fall into the hands of gangs and cartels,” said Kaine. “This legislation would create stronger oversight of U.S. small arms exports in order to disrupt arms trafficking and diversion of exported firearms.”

“Our nation’s weak gun laws have perpetuated the deadly cycle of firearms trafficking, allowing a steady stream of illicit guns into Latin America and the Caribbean. With the ARMAS Act, my colleagues and I are standing for stronger oversight of America’s gun exports by requiring interagency strategies and disrupting illegal arms trafficking,” said Durbin.

In March, Murphy introduced legislation to curb U.S. firearms trafficking to the Caribbean by requiring the Coordinator for Caribbean Firearms Prosecutions to report on the implementation of anti-firearm-trafficking provisions included in the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.

Full text of the legislation to be introduced is available here.