Those of us in the gun rights community know that straw purchases are often used by prohibited persons to get around background checks. A person with a clean record, often female, is used to fill out the Form 4473 and to make the purchase with money provided by the prohibited person. This person, the straw purchaser, has just broken federal law by lying on the Form 4473 when they said they were the actual purchaser in response to Question 21.a. That is a violation of 18 USC 922a6. Violating that statute carries a sentence of up to 10 years.
If you look at the prosecution statistics for lying on the Form 4473, you find that it is not often prosecuted. In FY 2013-FY 2017 or the second Obama term, there were a total of 533 prosecutions for this offense. They made up only 1.4% of all prosecutions for violating federal firearms laws. Being a felon in possession made up the overwhelming majority of prosecutions. It appears the Trump Administration made it more a priority as prosecutions increased to 2.6% in the first year of that administration. The database from Syracuse University did not specify how many people were actually convicted nor what sentences were given.
Bearing this in mind, it was interesting to receive a press release from the BATFE Chicago Field Division on just such an arrest and indictment. Usually these releases talk about either a reward for information on a gun store burglary or the conviction of violent criminal/gang member/drug dealer on a multitude of charges.
A woman has been indicted on federal firearm charges for allegedly straw purchasing handguns in a Chicago suburb on behalf of another individual.
On three occasions in 2019 and 2020, DIAMOND SMITH purchased a total of seven handguns, including two semi-automatic pistols, from a licensed firearms dealer in Oak Forest, Ill., and falsely certified on federal forms that she was the actual buyer, according to an indictment returned in U.S. District Court in Chicago. In reality, Smith purchased the guns on behalf of another individual, the charges allege.
Smith, 28, of Chicago, is charged with three counts of making false statements in connection with the acquisition of a firearm….
“Straw purchasers too often play a grave role in enabling the unlawful possession of guns and the violence that can follow,” said U.S. Attorney Lausch. “Our office is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to stop the flow of guns to individuals who cannot legally purchase them.”
After reading the actual indictment, the firearms purchased by Smith were all semi-auto pistols. There were four Glocks, a Walther, a Taurus, and a Smith & Wesson. Notably, one was listed as a “Glock G42 .390 caliber pistol.” I can’t say I’m surprised that no one caught that little error.