Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Straw Purchases

What is a Straw Purchase?

It's the purchase of an item which is not intended for the use of the purchaser.

If you buy a car for someone else, there's no problem

Buy a gun for someone else? Big problem.

Let's look at the compilatio of "Straw Purchases" for firearms as demonstrated by videos on YouTube, mostly by gunundercover

(Note: The creators of these videos may have an ulterior motive. Here's the test: can you accept them on face value? Why or Why Not?)

Illegal Sale Video 1: Seller Passes the Integrity Test

Illegal Sale Video 2: Rejecting Illegal Straw Purchase

Illegal Sale Video 3
: Sellers Fail the Integrity Test

Illegal Sale Video 4: Allowing Illegal Straw Purchase

So here's the deal:

1. If you are not legally permitted to purchase a firearm for your own use, you are not allowed to be any part of purchasing a firearm for someone else. In the best case, you and your "other person" can present yourselves to a dealer and you BOTH fill out the forms. Regardless of who actually pays for the firearm, or who accepts delivery of the firearm, you are both performing a legal action.
2. If you are not legally permitted to purchase a firearm for your own use, and you approach a "non FFL owner of a private collection" (not a "dealer? Not required to hold a Federal Firearms License) and the owner has any reason to suspect that you are not permitted to purchase a firearm ... that owner is not permitted to sell you a firearm.

Sales by "private collectors" are often, even 'usually', permitted at firearms shows. Non-dealers (who do not have a FFL) have less stringent Federal control over those to whom they may sale a firearm. This allows you to, for example, sell a pistol to your brother-in-law. Yes, even if your brother-in-law is an idiot. But if you suspect that the purchaser is not legally permitted to purchase or own a firearms, it is a violation of federal law for you to complete that transaction.

Is your brother-in-law-the-idiot legally entitled to purchase and own a firearm? Yes, you (as a "private collector") can probably complete the transaction legally. I do not know this, but this is my understanding. Don't go to court and present this purely private opinion as your defense; I am not a lawyer nor do I portray one on television.

What we're talking about here is nothing more than the use of common sense in firearms transactions, plus a determination to NOT place anyone at risk.

Depending on where you live, and certain characteristics of the firearm involved, you may not legally transfer a firearm to a convicted felon, a maniac, or a minor (YMMV). But you probably wouldn't want to do this, would you?

The "ownership" (or transfer to) a Minor is often covered by the legal fiction that you as the parent of the minor will allow the minor to use the firearm, but you still own it and are responsible for insuring that the minor uses it in a safe manner within a legal context. Again, YMMV.

But within the context of the situations described above ("Straw Purchases"), the legal transfer of firearms between individuals is subtly different for "private collectors" and "FFL Dealers".

The so-called Gun Show Loophole generally refers to the permission for "private collectors" (or "private individuals") to transfer firearms between themselves without the necessity of performing background checks. That is, if the owner is not a licensed dealer, he is not necessrily obliged to perform a background check through NCIS on a prospective purchaser.

In reality, the sponsors of gunshows now-days usually are inclined to require background checks on ALL purchasers when the transaction is conducted on the premises.

On the other hand, if you put an ad in the newspapers offering to sell a firearm, and someone responds positively to the offer ... while you are not obligated to require a background check (which is difficult under the current NCIS system) on the purchaser, you are STILL required to refuse to sell a firearm to anyone who you suspect the be not a legal purchaser. Again felon, maniac, minor, etc.

Still ... it may often happen that a private person who appears at a gun show with a gun to sell or trade, and who does not rent a table at the show, is approached by another private person who evinces an interest. If they remove themselves from the premises, from the control and authority of the gunshow sponsors, that transaction may be legal as long as the seller believes that the purchaser is legally permitted to purchase and own a firearm.

Depending on the outcome of HR 2324, and depending upon the circumstances (that is, if the sale begins or ends on the premises of a Gun Show),that permission may or may not apply to the transaction.

But it is probably still legal within the confines of your own home.

That, sir is Constitutional Law.

Today. And ... probably ... tomorrow.

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