I subscribe to press releases from various BATFE Field Divisions. I got one from the Chicago Field Division yesterday that kind of shocked me.
Matthew D. Krueger, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, announced, a federal grand jury returned an indictment against Hanna N. DeCicco (age 22) of Milwaukee with Making a False Statement to a Federal Firearms Dealer, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 922(a)(6) and 924(a)(2) on July 10, 2019.
DeCicco is charged with one count of being a straw purchaser of firearm. She knowningly made a false and fictitious that she was the actual buyer of the firearm, when in fact, she was acquiring the firearm for someone else. DeCicco faces a maximum of ten years of imprisonment, three years of supervised released, and a $250,000 fine.
This case is being prosecuted as part of the Project Safe Neighborhoods initiative. Project Safe Neighborhoods is a federal, state, and local law enforcement collaboration to identify, investigate, and prosecute individuals responsible for violent crimes in our neighborhoods. Project Safe Neighborhoods’ strategy brings together all levels of law enforcement and community resources to reduce violent crime and improve the quality of life in all our neighborhoods.
Do you know how rare something like that actually is? It is usually near the bottom of a Federal prosecutor’s agenda. At least it was during the Obama years.
This NPR report from 2015 noted that straw buyers were rarely prosecuted.
Many licensed gun dealers are concerned that straw purchasers are rarely prosecuted, says Lawrence Keane of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.
“The law says that somebody could go to jail for up to 10 years and face a fine of up to $250,000. Why that doesn’t happen more often is a question for, you know, the federal judiciary and the Department of Justice,” Keane says.
Bouchard, who retired from the ATF in 2007, admits charging straw buyers falls towards the bottom of federal prosecutors’ priority lists. He says the cases are difficult to win and resources are limited.
However, that has started to change as the Trump Administration has decided not to ignore those crimes. In the last year of the Obama Administration, only 111 people were charged with false statements on the Form 4473. By contrast, in the first seven months of FY 2019, the Department of Justice had already charge 167 people with making false statements.
The number is still low in comparison to the other Federal prosecutions involving weapons but it is on the rise. Frankly, I don’t have a problem with going after straw purchasers.
Somebody’s gonna take these games to far & end up gettin popped.