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What to do when you see an illegal gun transaction?

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Isaac-1, Feb 18, 2013.

  1. Isaac-1

    Isaac-1 Well-Known Member

    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.
  2. 19-3Ben

    19-3Ben Well-Known Member

    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.
  3. CoRoMo

    CoRoMo Well-Known Member

    I would assume that I saw things incorrectly and continue minding my own business.
  4. dirtykid

    dirtykid Well-Known Member

    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
  5. Vector

    Vector Well-Known Member

    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?

  6. slimjimriggins

    slimjimriggins Active Member

    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.
  7. slimjimriggins

    slimjimriggins Active Member

    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.
  8. Isaac-1

    Isaac-1 Well-Known Member

    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.
  9. Torian

    Torian Well-Known Member

    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.
  10. Aaron Baker

    Aaron Baker Well-Known Member

    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.

  11. gp911

    gp911 Well-Known Member

    When it's a situation like this one I consider it none of my business as I don't know the whole story.
  12. Isaac-1

    Isaac-1 Well-Known Member

    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.
  13. clutch

    clutch Well-Known Member

    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.
  14. Bubbles

    Bubbles Well-Known Member

    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.
  15. Sol

    Sol Well-Known Member

    ^ "not enough info" is the correct answer...unless you were a juror in the guys trial or the prison guard where he served.
  16. CarolinaChuck

    CarolinaChuck member

    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.

  17. BSA1

    BSA1 Well-Known Member

    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.
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2013
  18. Agsalaska

    Agsalaska Well-Known Member

    Good post BSA1.

    I am also not convinced anyone did anything wrong.
  19. hueyville

    hueyville Well-Known Member

    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.
  20. scaatylobo

    scaatylobo Well-Known Member

    Retired LEO

    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.

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