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The Writer's Guide to Firearms and Ammunition
4. Penalties For Violating Firearm Laws -- A Case Study
Many people call for more firearms laws without knowing or acknowledging the laws on the books. Let's look at a case study to see what laws are already in effect and what should happen to a career criminal who breaks the gun laws.
Scenario: Bob is a multi-convicted felon, a drug dealer and a fugitive. He lives in New York City. Five of Bob's "customers", all of whom are drug addicts previously convicted of felony drug trafficking, ask Bob to get them guns. Two of his customers live in New Jersey. Bob obtains a fake New Hampshire driver's license and other identification. He drives to New Hampshire, goes to five sporting goods stores, fills out the ATF forms, undergoes the National Instant Criminal Background Check (NICS) and purchases the guns. (His counterfeit identification enables him to get through the background check.) He immediately files the serial numbers off the guns, returns to New York and delivers them to his customers, knowing they will be used in a crimes of violence involving the drug trade.
Using the above scenario and looking at the Gun Control Act (United States Code, Title 18, Chapter 44), Bob should face considerable prison time. Keep in mind that numerous state and local laws were broken as well. In the interest of space, we will only look at the federal violations.
It was a federal felony for Bob -- as a convicted felon, as a fugitive or as an unlawful drug dealer -- to buy or receive or transport any firearm (§ 922(g)(1)-(3)).
It was a federal felony for Bob to exhibit false identification when purchasing the guns (§ 922(a)(6), § 924 (a)(1)).
It was a federal felony for Bob, a resident of New York, to buy firearms in another state and transport them back to New York (§ 922 (a)(3)).
It was a federal felony for Bob to sell firearms to persons who were not New York residents (§ 922 (a)(5)).
It was a federal felony for Bob to sell firearms to convicted felons or unlawful drug users regardless of where they lived (§ 922 (d)(1),(3)).
It was a federal felony for Bob to engage in the business of dealing in firearms without a Federal Firearms License (§ 922 (a)(1)(A)).
It was a federal felony for Bob to transport a firearm with an obliterated serial number (§ 922 (k)).
The basic felony penalties for each of Bob's willful violations are fines, imprisonment or both. Bob could face up to a maximum of 5 or even 10 years in prison, depending on the violation. Each gun would constitute a separate count for each offense.
There is an alternative sentence of 10 years for knowingly violating six of the provisions (§ 924 (a)(2)), which would increase the total federal felony sentence to 470 years.
The penalty provisions of the Gun Control Act define additional offenses and enhanced penalties that would increase Bob's sentence further:
— Bob's knowledge that crimes would be committed with the guns he transported and sold would add 50 years of sentencing time (§ 924(B), (h)).
— Since Bob had more than three felony convictions, he is subject to a mandatory 75-year sentence (§ 924(e)(1)).
— Bob's trip to New Hampshire to acquire firearms to be used in illegal dealing in firearms is a felony carrying a sentence up to 10 years (§ 924(n)).
— Bob's conspiracy with his customers to purchase in another state and provide firearms to be used in a crime of violence is punishable by a sentence up to 20 years (§ 924(O)).
Eliminating illegal gun transfers requires that we enforce the laws on the books with a zero-tolerance policy and long prison terms for lawbreakers and criminals like Bob.