Straw gun transactions typically involve someone purchasing a weapon for someone else – often because that person isn’t legally allowed to have a gun – either because they’re too young or have a criminal record that prohibits them from possessing a firearm. Sometimes, it’s for someone who doesn’t want their name linked to a weapon. One former agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) says “the No. 1 way criminals acquire guns is through straw purchases.”
The gun legislation passed by Congress and signed into law by the president this summer includes two provisions that address these transactions and help federal authorities crack down on illegal transactions. One makes straw purchases a federal crime that can carry a prison sentence of 15 years — longer if the purchase can be linked to drug trafficking.
The definition of “gun seller” has broadened
Another provision in the law expands the scope of those who can be charged with straw gun sales considerably. It essentially broadens the definition of “gun seller” from someone who owns a gun store to anyone who sells a firearm to “predominantly earn a profit” – for example, by selling them at gun shows.
One official with the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence says they don’t anticipate that the law will affect unlicensed gun sellers, who aren’t required to do background checks on prospective purchasers. However, it’s important to know Texas law regarding straw gun transactions.
For example, you could face charges if you sell, give or lend a firearm or ammunition to someone you know who plans to use it in a crime, who’s too young to legally own it or who has a criminal record that prevents them from having a gun. Just last year, it became illegal under Texas law to knowingly lie to a licensed gun dealer about being legally allowed to have a gun.
If you’re facing federal or state gun charges, it’s crucial to take them seriously. It’s crucial to have experienced legal guidance.