Gun purchasing dialogue these days is filled with terminology that’s often misused. One particular phrase you might’ve heard recently is “straw purchase”. But what exactly is a strawman purchase and why is it often used like it’s an illegal activity? Let us explain.
What Is a Strawman Purchase?
A “straw” purchase is a firearm purchase when one person buys the firearm with the intent of giving the gun to another person for their primary use. For instance, if a father were to buy his son a firearm and didn’t plan on being the owner and primary user of the weapon himself, it would qualify as a straw purchase.
The name comes from “strawman” – in this sense, the purchaser is buying the weapon for a strawman user who isn’t currently in the store or signing the forms with them.
What Makes This Purchase Illegal?
In short, straw purchases are illegal because the background checks. Other legal loopholes that a gun purchaser needs to jump through don’t apply to someone not in the store buying the weapon themselves.
If you were to buy a firearm for someone else, you’re basically trying to let them skip the legal process and get a weapon without having to pass several checks.
As you can imagine, criminals try to do this all the time. Those with criminal histories usually can’t pass background checks and thus can’t purchase their own firearms. So, they’ll try to get one of their friends who has a clean record to buy the weapon for them.
In other cases, people will try to get another person to buy a firearm so that the weapon won’t be registered in their name. This can make it more difficult to track down the gun user if they commit some kind of crime.
More specifically, anyone who wants to buy a gun has to fill out a Federal Firearms Transaction Record Part 1 – Over the Counter. You’ve probably also heard this form called Form 4473.
This is the form you fill out when you’re still in the store. It has the buyer of a firearm answer various questions so that the store itself can verify a person’s eligibility to purchase a gun.
The form explicitly asks whether the person filling out the form is the intended user and owner of the firearm being purchased. It even says that the dealer “cannot transfer the firearm(s) to you” if you’re not the actual buyer. It also states that you aren’t the actual buyer if you are acquiring the firearm on behalf of another person.
It’s pretty cut and dry. You’re violating the law if you purchase a gun with the intent of bringing it to someone else. Of course, there’s no law against you letting someone handle your weapon at the firing range or in other protected or necessary circumstances.
Are All “Straw” Purchases Illegal?
Interestingly, no. Business entities and even people can make straw-type purchases with practically any other type of commodity, with a few exceptions like vehicles.
It’s only with guns and big machines like cars that straw purchase illegality comes into play, for obvious reasons. Guns are great, but only if we’re responsible for who can buy them and when.
Say No to Strawman Purchases
So, overall, a straw purchase is always something you should strive to avoid. Never buy a gun for someone else, even if they seem to be responsible and you feel you can trust them. It’s about showing that gun owners are better than what anti-gun media says. Stick with legal purchases, educate your friends, and we’ll turn the dialogue yet.
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What is your opinion on straw purchases? Do share it with us in the comments section!