In the last 3 weeks we have received more calls about arrests or seizures involving the ATF and straw purchases than in the previous 7 years. (NOTE: none of these calls were from people using our gun trusts) We felt it important for individuals and those involved with Gun Trusts to understand the concept and how to make sure they are not involved in a straw purchase.
If you are in Florida and have been arrested for a straw purchase or have had firearms seized regarding a straw purchase, contact an attorney who is familiar with straw purchases and firearms. If you are in another state you should look for someone who deals with criminal law and is familiar with firearms. This type of representation can be a very expensive as it is typically a federal charge and most criminal lawyers do not practice in the federal courts.
A straw purchase is any purchase wherein an agent agrees to acquire a good or service for someone who is able or unable or unwilling to purchase the good or service himself, and the agent transfers the goods/services to that person after purchasing them.
Several sources incorrectly state that “Straw purchases are legal except in cases where the ultimate receiver of goods or services uses those goods or services in the commission of a crime with the prior knowledge of the straw purchaser, or if the ultimate possessor is not legally able to purchase the goods/services.” While the above statement may be correct in some cases, it is not correct when dealing with firearms.
If the straw purchaser of the firearm lies about the identity of the ultimate possessor of the gun, he or she can be charged with making false statements on a Federal Firearms Transaction Record. If a firearm is purchased as a gift, the transaction is not a straw purchase, and the person buying the gift is considered the end user.
There is currently a supreme court case on this topic where a family member bought a gun for a relative so that he could get a “police discount” and then was arrested for making a straw purchase because he lied on the 4473 where he stated that he was the intended purchaser. Both parties were legally able to purchase the item and neither was a prohibited person.
If you have a gun trust you should be very careful not to do straw purchases where the trust purchases something for someone not associated with the trust or a person associated with your gun trust purchased items for someone else. We generally see people make mistakes when transactions across state lines are involved or someone is under the age of 21 wants to purchase an NFA firearm. The instructions which came with your gun trust should cover these issues. It is important that you not add someone on to your trust only for the purpose of buying a gun or NFA firearms that you could not otherwise purchase.