Kind Of Shocking That They Sought An Indictment

I subscribe to press releases from various BATFE Field Divisions. I got one from the Chicago Field Division yesterday that kind of shocked me.

They actually sought an indictment against someone for lying on the Form 4473 and facilitating a straw purchase.

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.

As an aside, Ms. DeCicco needs to clean her Facebook page up. An Assistant US Attorney is going to love this comment from December.

Somebody’s gonna take these games to far & end up gettin popped.

Why Pass New Laws If You Won’t Enforce Existing Ones?

Jim Baker, the NRA-ILA Director of Federal Affairs, represented the NRA at the meeting last week with Vice-President Joe Biden and his task force. During that meeting, Baker emphasized the need to enforce existing gun laws. One of the items he mentioned was the low prosecution rate for falsifying answers on the ATF Form 4473.

Biden’s response?

“And to your point, Mr. Baker, regarding the lack of prosecutions on
lying on Form 4473s, we simply don’t have the time or manpower to
prosecute everybody who lies on a form, that checks a wrong box, that
answers a question inaccurately.”

The Daily Caller article summarized the lack of prosecutions:

In 2010, prosecutors considered just 22 cases of information falsification, according to a 2012 report to the Department of Justice by the Regional Justice Information Service. Forty additional background-check cases ended up before prosecutors for reasons related to unlawful gun possession.

In all, prosecutors pursued just 44 of those 62 cases. More than 72,600 applications were denied on the basis of a background check.

Bear in mind that each false answer on a Form 4473 carries a penalty of up to 10 years in Federal prison.

It isn’t just falsifications of Form 4473 that the Obama Administration seems not want to prosecute. In the table below, the number of firearms cases files and the number of convictions in US District Court is summarized by fiscal year for the period FY 2001 to FY 2010. A Federal fiscal year begins on October 1st of the preceding year. Thus, FY 2001 began on October 1, 2000. FY 2010 is the latest year in which statistics are available.

FY
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
Cases Filed
5,875
7,412
9,111
9,403
9,008
8,472
8,103
7,891
7,650
7,089
Convictions
4,925
5,563
6,786
7,889
8,690
8,706
8,111
7,886
7,941
7,642
Federal Firearms
Offenses, Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics, SUNY-Albany School of
Criminal Justice

The number of  cases brought involving violations of Federal firearms laws is currently at the lowest level since FY 2001. That year the responsibility was part Clinton and part Bush. It is obvious that US Attorneys in the Bush Administration took violation of firearms law more seriously than do the US Attorneys in the Obama Administration. Comparing the high year of prosecutions under Bush – FY 2004 – with the first full year under Obama – FY 2010 – prosecutions have dropped by 33%. This is for all firearms prosecutions which includes felon in possession among other things.

Jim Baker points out the disconnect between pushing new firearms laws when you don’t prosecute existing laws.


“We think it is problematic when the administration takes lightly the prosecutions under existing gun laws and yet does not seem to have a problem promoting a whole host of other gun laws,” Baker told TheDC.

“If we are not going to enforce the laws that are on the books, it not only engenders disrespect for the law but it makes law-abiding gun owners wonder why we are going through this exercise we are going through now,” he added.

With an approximately 20,000 firearms laws already on the books in the United States, one more law passed won’t stop criminals. Some of the laws being promoted by the Obama Administration and the gun control forces in Congress would, however, make it harder for the average, law-abiding citizen to protect him or herself from the criminal class.

Is that what we really want criminal law to do? The answer is obviously a resounding no.