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Federal Prosecutions for False Statement(s) to Purchase a Firearm

Purchases of Firearms 

All purchases of new firearms are to be recorded and registered, with the purchaser’s information and identity.  This is in part to determine if the potential purchaser has a felony conviction.  If the prospective purchaser has a felony conviction, then he/she is prohibited from possessing, or purchasing, a firearm.

False Statements to Acquire a Firearm 

Title 18 U.S. Code §922(a)(6) makes it unlawful to purchase a firearm from a licensed dealer by knowingly making a false statement.   One of the types of false statements to do this relate to the person’s identity. Another false statement for attempting to purchase a firearm is stating the purchaser is the intended buyer of the firearm. That is, the purchaser submitting the purchase record swears, by his signature, that the firearm is not for another person.  ATF Form 4473, Firearms Transaction Record (used for every new firearm purchase), has a question about ownership of the firearm.  The question is:  “Are you the actual transferee/buyer of the firearm(s) listed on this form?” If the purchaser answers “No” on the form, the purchase will not be allowed.  If the purchaser answers “Yes” to the question, but then transfers the firearm to someone else, he could be prosecuted.

Misleading Statement 

The statement has to be false or likely to deceive regarding facts of the sale, to be a crime.  Falsifying the identity of the actual buyer has been held to be a false statement.  Purchasing the firearm on behalf of another person is also a false statement. Purchasing for another person, or a “straw purchase,” is a very common occurrence in firearms false statement cases.

Straw Purchases

The person who completes and submits the Firearms Transaction Record, with intent to give to another person, is the “strawman.”  The straw purchase is designed to hide the identity of the intended, true owner.  So the person buying and submitting the form, is called the strawman, as the middle man in the true transaction.  The true transaction, not reported, is the purchase for the other person.  A straw purchase occurs with these facts, and therefore a false statement, even if either person could legally purchase a firearm.

Action / Case

If you are under investigation for a false statement case or any other federal case, contact former federal prosecutor John Teakell.  Mr. Teakell can advise you, promote your defense, and navigate the federal criminal process. 

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