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March 7, 2019

Stopping Straw Purchases: Firearms Industry, Law Enforcement Work to Make Our Communities Safer

By Larry Keane

Buy a gun for someone who can’t and you’ll buy some jail time. The message is simple enough, but for one Philadelphia “straw purchaser,” he just wouldn’t listen.

Or pay attention to the warning signs. There were billboards. Literally, 1,800 billboards, in addition to 500 radio ads and 13.3 million digital impressions in the last two years. Elias K. Davie of Philadelphia was sentenced to two years in prison in late February after pleading guilty to making false statements to a licensed firearms retailer in the acquisition of firearms.

Score One for the Good Guys

Davie purchased three handguns on behalf of drug dealers. He later twice attempted to buy more guns for prohibited individuals. Thanks to the thorough work of the Baltimore Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), however, this dangerous straw purchaser was taken off the streets along with the firearms that were intended for hardened criminals. The U.S. Attorney for the District of Delaware, David Weiss, commented following the conviction that “it is a violation of law to straw purchase firearms. It is even more egregious to supply those firearms to drug dealers. This is a lethal combination and we will do our best to ensure that such defendants are held fully accountable for their conduct.”

As the firearm industry’s trade association, NSSF is committed to working with law enforcement to ensure firearms don’t end up in the hands of prohibited individuals. When straw purchasers seek to acquire firearms for criminals, it is in the interest of all parts of our industry and to the public safety of our communities to ensure that those individuals face justice that is swift and sure.

Retailers Are the Safety Vanguards

Our retailers are the front line for ensuring guns don’t end up in the wrong hands. They are the ones who rely on the background checks to work and try to detect when a sale doesn’t seem legitimate. That is why for two decades the NSSF has partnered with the ATF so that firearm retailers are better able to proactively identify and prevent illegal straw purchases. Together, we conduct public awareness campaigns warning people of the potential consequences of 10 years in jail and a $250,000 fine.

Our national campaign “Don’t Lie for the Other GuyTM” is widely cited by firearm retailers and federal law enforcement officials as an effective educational program that helps gun dealers recognize potential straw purchasers before the crime can occur. The ATF has praised the campaign as “an important tool for (us) as we pursue our mission of preventing terrorism, reducing violent crime, and protecting the public.” The National President of the Fraternal Order of Police, Chuck Canterbury, said that the Don’t Lie for the Other Guy campaign is “important to deter illegal purchases and help retailers prevent those purchases from happening in the first place.” As this program works hand-in-hand with the Justice Department across the federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, it continues to help ensure that communities are safer and that the rights of law-abiding Americans are protected.

Working to help law enforcement keep guns out of the wrong hands is a responsibility the firearms industry accepts – willingly and gladly.

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