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October 18, 2011

Attorney General Holder Warns Congress About “Straw Purchasers,” Yet Stopped Funding Anti-Straw Purchasing Program


In a recent letter to Congress responding to concerns about his testimony last May, Attorney General Eric Holder said ATF’s “ability to stem the flow of guns from the United States into Mexico is severely impaired by a lack of effective law enforcement tools. For example, a number of witnesses indicated that current penalties for illegal straw purchases are inadequate to deter such activity or to induce cooperation with law enforcement authorities after a violation is detected.”

With respect to his concern, NSSF has long called for a mandatory minimum sentence of five years to supplement the existing straw purchasing penalty (up to 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine). A slap on the wrist should not be given by judges to individuals who knowingly put firearms into the hands of prohibited persons and drug cartels.

Where NSSF and the attorney general seem to differ is in our belief that prevention is just as important as punishment. This is why we continue to renew calls for Congress, the Department of Justice and the Administration to once again fund the Don’t Lie for the Other Guy anti-straw purchasing campaign – a joint firearms industry/law enforcement program that utilizes both public awareness and firearms retailer education to achieve its goal of assisting ATF in reducing illegal firearm purchases.

This is a campaign that ATF has called “vital” and “an important tool for ATF as it pursues its mission of preventing terrorism, reducing violent crime, and protecting the nation.”

We urge Attorney General Holder to reconsider and provide adequate funding for the Don’t Lie program – a safe, non-partisan and effective means of combating illegal straw purchases.