In August 2014, a Minnesota man participated in an online auction for three shotguns. According to MPR News, the man used an alias of “Ray Kmetz” during the auction in an effort to hide his identity. The man then gave the guns to the actual Raymond Kmetz, who opened fire on New Hope City Hall in Minneapolis and was eventually killed by police. The man who purchased the guns was charged with one count of making a false statement to acquire firearms on behalf of another person, which is a felony.
As a criminal defense attorney in Minneapolis knows, even though this man was legally permitted to purchase weapons, he committed a felony when he made false statements to do so.
Straw gun purchasing
According to a study from the University of California-Davis, illegal straw gun purchasing is a substantial problem that is attempted between 30,000 and 40,000 times in a year. Someone who makes a straw purchase usually has a clean record and will therefore pass the background checks required to obtain the firearm. As a criminal defense attorney in Minneapolis may have seen, the weapons are typically bought for people who have felony convictions and are therefore unable to legally acquire a weapon.
Researchers in the UC-Davis study found that the retailers who put the most effort into cutting down on straw man purchases are usually targets for gun thefts. The same dealers, who may have grown a reputation for looking the other way, are also more likely to sell guns that are later used in crimes.
The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has made a concentrated effort to deter straw purchases. In addition to educating retailers on how to detect sales that would be illegal, the ATF has partnered with the National Shooting Sports Foundation to make people aware of the penalties for purchasing a gun for someone else, which include the following:
- A prison sentence of up to 10 years
- Fines of up to $250,000
- A felony conviction that will prevent future firearm ownership
Straw man purchasing is considered a federal crime because the purchaser either makes a false statement in regard to a federal firearms license or gives false identification. Not only is the person who buys the weapons charged with a felony, but so is the intended recipient because he or she aided and abetted in the violation.
Anyone with questions regarding this matter should consult with a criminal defense attorney in Minneapolis.