What to do when you see an illegal gun transaction?


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Isaac-1
February 18, 2013, 05:28 PM
Last weekend I was in a major chain sporting goods store and saw what appeared to be a straw purchase being suggested by the person behind the counter. Keep in mind I was there shopping for other stuff and this is based on the limited amount I could not keep from over hearing while waiting to ask a question.

Man and woman (wife?) are in store, he is wanting to buy a gun (shotgun I think, certainly long gun of some type in the $300 price range), the man fills out the paperwork and the employee asked for it along with his drivers license. The man explains that his license has been suspended, the employee says he must have photo id to complete the sale, asks when he will get his license back, and the man says he just has to pay a fine, but if he pays the fine he will not have money to buy the gun he wants. So at this point employee asks the woman if she has ID and if she is a state resident, then goes on to explain in rather clear detail that the gun could be sold in her name .... In fact the employee went to directly tell the woman to fill out the form and what to put where. I left at this point so don't know how it ended up.

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19-3Ben
February 18, 2013, 05:30 PM
I'd mention it to the manager so that he/she can step in and see that everything is on the up and up before doing something as drastic as calling the police on admittedly limited info.
Best to handle such matters internally and correct/prevent as needed.

CoRoMo
February 18, 2013, 05:33 PM
I would assume that I saw things incorrectly and continue minding my own business.

dirtykid
February 18, 2013, 05:38 PM
I believe a straw purchase is someone buying a gun for another person who legally cannot purchase or own it themselves,
Not knowing if they were husband and wife, I would have minded my own business

Vector
February 18, 2013, 05:41 PM
While a little different angle, I've always wondered about ownership of firearms as it relates to spouses.

Lets say one is within legal parameters to buy/own, and the other for some reason is not. If both are traveling together, and a firearm is in the car or trunk, how is an LEO suppose to know who's it is?
The same could be said in places like CA where they are already confiscating weapons by going to peoples homes who they suspect have a weapon but are on some ever expanding list of those who are not allowed to have firearms anymore(misdemeanors in some cases).

Also what about divorce or inheritance, when a spouse demands a portion of the gun collection or it is bequeathed?

What about a restricted spouse alone in the car after the legal spouse left a firearm in the glove box/trunk, then they get pulled over?

`

slimjimriggins
February 18, 2013, 05:45 PM
At the Big box store I worked at, we sold a lot of firearms. The employees are trained for situations like this, and told NOT to make the sale. If the employee went through with that transaction, and management found out, he would most likely be fired. I'd probably wait to see what happened, and remind him or her afterward of the possible consequences.

slimjimriggins
February 18, 2013, 05:48 PM
I do believe though, that a person should be able to just buy a firearm without any BC whatsoever. For me it's all or nothin. I believe many if not all of our firearms laws are unconstitutional.

Isaac-1
February 18, 2013, 05:50 PM
Thanks for the comments so far, my main concern at the time was for the potential fallout on the store based on the actions of this one employee, and how it might hurt the gun rights of law abiding gun owners as any fine they received would certainly be passed along to the customers in the form of higher prices, etc.

Torian
February 18, 2013, 05:52 PM
I wouldn't get involved. Unless you are a cop or federal agent (ATF), it's really none of your concern.

In the same way, I carry a weapon as do various law enforcement, but our responsibilities are different. "Good citizens" aren't always rewarded for sticking their noses in other peoples' business.

Aaron Baker
February 18, 2013, 05:52 PM
There are definitely ways that this transaction could have been legal and you lacked sufficient information.

For instance, a trust can purchase a firearm. And the owner of the firearm is the trust. However, if a trustee goes to an FFL to buy a firearm for a trust, the 4473 is still filled out in the trustee's name. If this husband and wife both were trustees of a trust, it wouldn't matter who was filling out the 4473. Either way, the trust is the intended purchaser, and they're both authorized to act for the trust.

On the other hand, that ain't likely what was happening. I'm still comfortable with saying you lack sufficient information to know whether it was an illegal transaction, and since it's up to the FFL to make sure the transaction is legal, I wouldn't have interfered, personally.

Aaron

gp911
February 18, 2013, 05:54 PM
When it's a situation like this one I consider it none of my business as I don't know the whole story.

Isaac-1
February 18, 2013, 05:56 PM
I agree I lack enough information to know for certain that this was an illegal transaction, the thing that bothers me most about is this potential straw purchase situation was suggested by the employee after asking the woman if she was a state resident and had ID, etc. In a LGS I would be less inclined to say anything, but in a large chain store things are a bit different.

clutch
February 18, 2013, 06:03 PM
This is interesting. He did something that caused him to lose his license. It might be driving w/o insurance in some states. He could apply for a state ID as an option or if he was with his wife she could buy their gun.

One of them needs to pass a NICS check. If she has ID and is clean, she should be able to buy it. In some states, after you are together for a certain time, everything each came into marriage with is mutual property not to mention what you acquire during it.

I'm not convinced something illegal took place, even under current law.

Bubbles
February 18, 2013, 06:53 PM
There are plenty of reasons a DL can be suspended and the person may still legally own a gun.

There are also plenty of prohibited persons with valid DL's.

Not enough info.

Sol
February 18, 2013, 07:04 PM
^ "not enough info" is the correct answer...unless you were a juror in the guys trial or the prison guard where he served.

CarolinaChuck
February 18, 2013, 07:42 PM
If you feel the need to get involved tell the store management about it. Local LEO's or Fed's may be up to something and that would gain you undue attention as a private Joe... Keep it simple where you live and let the chips fall where they may; you did your part.

Chuck

BSA1
February 18, 2013, 07:56 PM
The man explains that his license has been suspended, the employee says he must have photo id to complete the sale, asks when he will get his license back, and the man says he just has to pay a fine, but if he pays the fine he will not have money to buy the gun he wants.

He is not prohibited just does not have a photo I.D. See 11.1 Definition of Prohibited Person on BATF 4473 Instructions. If he can produce a government issued photo i.d the sale may continue.

So at this point employee asks the woman if she has ID and if she is a state resident, then goes on to explain in rather clear detail that the gun could be sold in her name

His wife or companion is not a prohibited person, has proper photo identification and can pay for the purchase. The O.P does not state and apparently does not know how she paid for the gun. She may have used their joint checking account, joint credit card or her personal checking account, personal credit card or cash all legal forms of payment.

Also it is legal women can purchase their own firearms now days.

A straw purchase is explained in Instruction for Question 11.a. Once a firearm is purchased is it the sole property of the buyer and even so what prevents her from her letting her spouse from using it whenever he wants? My wife is not a prohibited person and has free access to all of OUR firearms.

Gifts have also been discussed at length on THR.

In fact the employee went to directly tell the woman to fill out the form and what to put where

The instruction state the buyer must personally complete Section A of this form and certify (sign) the answers are true, correct and complete. The instructions also have provision if the buyer cannot read and write but I could not find anything in the Instructions that addresses if and how much the seller can assist the buyer with filling out the form 4473. Common sense to me would be the seller should be able to answer the buyer’s questions about what the various questions on the Form mean (for example one only has to read some of the previous threads on what a felony conviction is) especially if it is a first time buyer.

I will look forward to the opinions of more experience dealers about how much assistance the seller may provide to the buyer and what crosses the line.

Me? IMHO I am not a LEO, the clerk has been trained by his employer how out to complete firearm sales and it is none of my dang business.

Agsalaska
February 18, 2013, 08:10 PM
Good post BSA1.

I am also not convinced anyone did anything wrong.

hueyville
February 18, 2013, 08:11 PM
Unless you knew for sure the man was legally ineligible to own a firearm and that the other "person" was doing the paperwork either for money or other considerations then going on their own way while person one takes the gun then its none of your business. And if it is an obvious illegal straw purchase I would personally again consider it none of my business. This is the responsibility of the FFL holder, its representatives, law enforcement and parties directly involved. Private citizens sticking their nose into others business is quite often the beginning of a problem we want no part of.

On occasion my wife has purchased me a gun for birthday, Christmas, etc. Usually a friend that knows what I want goes with her, makes the selection, deals with the clerk, then the wife fills out the paperwork and throws down the cash. I get a nicely wrapped present on a special occasion that I am legally entitled to own. One Christmas I bought my parents a consecutive serial number set of matching S&W Model 60's. Guns were never intended for me to own yet I filled out the yellow sheet. By the limited information you are basing the definition of a straw purchase on, many people could fall under that classification. Last thing I would want to do is drop a dime to 911 and end up in a civil suit for defamation of character or some other charge based on getting the police involved in a situation I was not clear of all the facts.

scaatylobo
February 18, 2013, 08:17 PM
I am retired LEO and I consider myself a stickler for the law.

But under the circumstances you stated,I would mind my own business.

Might very well be a "straw purchase" under the strictest tenets of the law,BUT if she felt it was alright for him to purchase it [ no domestic things going on ] then I would keep walking.

IF the store was a favorite of mine OR the manager a friend,I might very well tell him so he dont lose his license.

Coop45
February 18, 2013, 08:24 PM
What if the woman has her husband's power of attorney? I can't see where there was a violation. A man and his wife are one in many instances. If they were't related, that would be a straw purchase.

jerkface11
February 18, 2013, 08:27 PM
I mind my own business.

BK
February 18, 2013, 08:34 PM
Probably a couple parents buying a gift for their child. They likely told the clerk what they were doing and he would have been versed on gift transactions, but the OP missed hearing that part.

The dad goes to complete the 4473 but doesn't have ID so the clerk advises the mom to complete the paperwork so that they can purchase the shotgun for the recipient of the gift. Happens all the time.

Sam1911
February 18, 2013, 08:48 PM
Let's clear a little air first:

Whether the person buying a gun or filling out the paperwork is a prohibited person has NOTHING to do with whether a transaction is a "straw purchase."

If the person filling out the paperwork is not the real buyer, it is a straw purchase, PERIOD.

We have a really nice STICKY (http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=700331) on this.

Second, if the couple had come to the counter clerk and suggested that the wife would fill out the paperwork for the husband who couldn't -- for ANY reason -- THAT would be an attempted straw purchase and the dealer should refuse it.

For the dealer to suggest such a thing is quite odd, and quite against the law. (And the ATF's guidebook for dealers on how to proceed.)

As a lot of others have said, though -- enforcing these laws is none of my business (in fact it goes counter to my personal beliefs) and I would assume that my assumptions about what was happening were wrong. I wouldn't be saying anything to anyone about that. Unless the dealer was a friend of mine and I was trying to keep him and his clerks out of trouble.

Agsalaska
February 18, 2013, 08:54 PM
Thanks Sam.

beatledog7
February 18, 2013, 08:54 PM
I was in a different part of the store and therefore I have no idea what may or may not have happened regarding any alleged transaction...

taliv
February 18, 2013, 08:55 PM
i have a strong default position of minding my own business, but there are two things that would enter into my decision making

one is whether i'm going to assist the gov in violating people's rights by enforcing what most of us consider unconstitutional laws or passively resist

the second is whether I have reason to believe the person trying to get the gun is likely going to do something very bad with it (like they've been talking about shooting their spouse or co-workers or something)

MedWheeler
February 18, 2013, 08:56 PM
I agree that there is a strong possibility no crime was committed. He found himself unable to purchase the firearm for a reason that does not make him a "prohibited person", and aborted the sale. Then, his female companion, who had seen the firearm, decided she wanted it, and she jumped on it.

The suggestion of the clerk, assuming he only knew what you described, was out of line, at least from an employer-policy standpoint, and possibly from a BATFE one as well.
But, he may have known more than you (or we) do.

Sam1911
February 18, 2013, 08:56 PM
What if the woman has her husband's power of attorney? I can't see where there was a violation. A man and his wife are one in many instances. If they were't related, that would be a straw purchase.No.

Unless you knew for sure the man was legally ineligible to own a firearm and that the other "person" was doing the paperwork either for money or other considerations then going on their own way while person one takes the gun...Those factors are not legally relevant.

If she has ID and is clean, she should be able to buy it. In some states, after you are together for a certain time, everything each came into marriage with is mutual property not to mention what you acquire during it. Doesn't matter at all.

I believe a straw purchase is someone buying a gun for another person who legally cannot purchase or own it themselves,NO.

Again, read the STICKY (http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=700331).

A straw purchase is one person filling out the 4473 when another person is actually buying the gun. Joint property, joint checking accounts, prohibited persons, and all such considerations do not change the fact that person A is filling out the paperwork but person B is really buying that gun.

If person A wants to buy a GIFT for person B (as in, a present...purchased with their own money to give to another) that is perfectly fine. But don't expect to change horses mid-stream and tell a dealer, "Oh, well then she will buy it for me as a gift." That's won't fly if the dealer is following the rules.

psyopspec
February 18, 2013, 09:03 PM
I find it best not to involve myself in the personal affairs of others.

JVaughn
February 18, 2013, 09:08 PM
I do believe though, that a person should be able to just buy a firearm without any BC whatsoever. For me it's all or nothin. I believe many if not all of our firearms laws are unconstitutional.

+1. Exactly.

joejoeshooter
February 18, 2013, 09:15 PM
I would assume that I saw things incorrectly and continue minding my own business.
To all that said mind your own business - I bid you this.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing’

So there..

JJS

Deltaboy
February 18, 2013, 09:18 PM
I have ran into too many businesses that give us a hard time about my wife handling the business at the bank and other places so If I forgot my Id and the wife wants to buy it for Me it is no one's business cause we are married. :fire:

Sam1911
February 18, 2013, 09:22 PM
To all that said mind your own business - I bid you this.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing’

So there..
Most of us here believe that the laws surrounding such a sale are both unConstitutional and wrong.

So in this case "doing nothing" does not promote evil, but rather, promotes GOOD.

Now, to the extent that it might eventually lead the dealer to lose their license, we might feel some obligation to try and make sure they remember both what the law says, and that people are watching and noticing what goes on.

jerkface11
February 18, 2013, 09:27 PM
To all that said mind your own business - I bid you this.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing’

So there..


So the ATF are the good guys?

Sam1911
February 18, 2013, 09:33 PM
If I forgot my Id and the wife wants to buy it for Me it is no one's business cause we are married.And that's fine. If she wants to buy you a GIFT, great. She can buy you a gift. Just don't go tell the clerk "I want that gun and my wife is going to fill out the paperwork for me..." That's a clear straw sale and, lawfully, the clerk should refuse you. She can buy the gun without saying anything about her reasons for buying it -- or she could even tell the clerk, "I am buying this as a gift for my husband." Those shouldn't raise red flags.

Just don't walk in and demand that the clerk do something for you that his license depends on him NOT doing and then get mad if he won't do it.

22-rimfire
February 18, 2013, 09:39 PM
Thanks for the comments so far, my main concern at the time was for the potential fallout on the store based on the actions of this one employee, and how it might hurt the gun rights of law abiding gun owners as any fine they received would certainly be passed along to the customers in the form of higher prices, etc.

I would mind my own business since I doubt you know the entire situation. A store is not going to pass along a fine to their customers.

BK
February 18, 2013, 09:40 PM
I was referring to those parents buying a gift for their child, not one buying for the other.

Isaac-1
February 18, 2013, 09:51 PM
Again I am admitting that there may be more to the story than is apparent from my point of view, but the thing that really shocked me was that the employee after getting to the impasse regarding the ID took such a direct action asking the woman if she was a state resident and if she had valid ID, then jumping into basically telling her to fill out the papework so the man could get the gun. To me this is somewhat different than the typical scene that I am sure many of us have seen with men and women together buying guns, this is the store employee basically saying we can get around the lack of ID and complete the sale if the woman fills out the paperwork....

Sam1911
February 18, 2013, 09:53 PM
I agree. If what you think you overheard is what was really said, that store owner has a problem on his/her hands with that clerk. Pretty scary considering the consequences if caught.

Steel Horse Rider
February 18, 2013, 10:03 PM
It sounds like two people with poor judgement met. One for buying something before clearing his legal obligations and another for trying to complete a sale which may or may not have been a violation of his employers rules, but then the world is filled with people who have diminished decision making capacities......

Rezin
February 19, 2013, 12:20 PM
MYOB....

Ryanxia
February 19, 2013, 12:35 PM
I would assume that I saw things incorrectly and continue minding my own business.
This. Besides we'll all likely be prohibited persons anyways from stricter gun laws so might as well warm up to the idea. Just kidding, of course.... ;)

06
February 19, 2013, 01:06 PM
Like others have said---none of my business. Not my store, not my friends, and not my firearm.

22-rimfire
February 19, 2013, 01:39 PM
Let's just say that UBC's were passed into law... would you get your panties in a wad if you observed what you are nearly positive to be an illegal firearm transaction? I would mind my own business and let law enforcement do their jobs.

Let me give you a real example... I was taking a walk in PA where I grew up. I observed several people hunting groundhogs with AR-15 type rifles. My first reaction was.... THEY'RE BREAKING PA LAW.... then I thought about it... it was their land and I was a guest at that point. I was not going to butt in one way or the other since I feel the "law" is kind of stupid and should have been changed a long time ago.

Roadkill
February 19, 2013, 02:03 PM
I'm sorry but I'm not feeling too warm and fuzzy about getting involved with the feds right now. Never invite the man into your life. Once he's there he forgets its your house and sets the rules. Simply put - none of my business.

Outlaw Man
February 19, 2013, 02:21 PM
But don't expect to change horses mid-stream and tell a dealer, "Oh, well then she will buy it for me as a gift." That's won't fly if the dealer is following the rules.

I actually witnessed that very situation while I was waiting my turn at a Bass Pro Shops counter last year. The guy didn't want to drive four hours round trip to get his license, and they rejected his proposal to "just mail it to my house." As soon as he tried to switch to his wife buying it for him, the clerk politely told him he wasn't going home that day with a firearm, at least not from their store.

I thought he did the right thing, but if he had went ahead with the sale, I'd have probably just let it go. I heard that portion of the conversation quite clearly, but I didn't hear the first of it, so there's definitely no way to know all the details.

Schneider
February 19, 2013, 02:24 PM
Who, me? I dint see nuffins...

HankR
February 19, 2013, 02:42 PM
While a little different angle, I've always wondered about ownership of firearms as it relates to spouses.Lets say one is within legal parameters to buy/own, and the other for some reason is not. If both are traveling together, and a firearm is in the car or trunk

A agree this could possibly be a gray area in some states. One reason that I "kindly asked" my wife to get her CCW. In our state a loaded gun in the car is legit, but in some neigh boring states one needs a CCW. I didn't want her to get in trouble for my gun. Basic CYA.

Probably a couple parents buying a gift for their child. They likely told the clerk what they were doing and he would have been versed on gift transactions, but the OP missed hearing that part.

I'm guilty of this. Many years ago I lived in a state w/ onerous purchase laws. I wanted a break open Rossi matched pair to teach my son to shoot (way before he was big enough to shoot it, I just wanted to be prepared). I had my wife fill out the paperwork, hoping she'd get a little feel about why I get so upset about these rules. (In all honesty, I had forgotten that the form asked your weight, I think that was the part that annoyed her the most. What other product do I need to specify my race before buying?)

shafter
February 19, 2013, 05:44 PM
I'd just mind my sweet old business. I'm not the police of the world or anything.

Spymaster
February 19, 2013, 08:09 PM
I would assume that I saw things incorrectly and continue minding my own business.
I've only seen a few of your posts, but I'm liking you a whole lot! :)

Spdracr39
February 20, 2013, 09:32 AM
I'm still going with the mind your own business scenario. In our country innocent until PROVEN guilty is the rule of law and there is no reason to assume something illegal was happening. It is unfair to the people buying the guns and uncalled for to assume bad over good.

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