Straw Purchases of Firearms in New Jersey

Understanding Crimes for Straw Gun Purchasing in NJ

Straw Purchases of Firearms Offenses in NJ In New Jersey, certain persons are ineligible to possess a firearm. They may not purchase or own a gun. So, people with certain indictable criminal convictions, a history of mental health institutionalization, or disorderly persons offenses involving domestic violence are prohibited from having a weapon. And yet, banned persons can illegally obtain weapons from someone who can purchase a gun, a practice known as straw purchasing of firearms. Straw purchases are not exclusive to New Jersey, but the state buckled down on the illegal trafficking of firearms several years ago by criminalizing the knowing solicitation, persuasion, encouragement, or enticement of another person to sell, give, or otherwise deliver a firearm to one who is not legally permitted to have a gun. In addition, anyone who provides false information on an application to get a gun license also commits a crime.

If you or a loved one has been arrested for making or participating in a straw purchase in New Jersey, contact the accomplished gun lawyers at The Tormey Law Firm to discuss your case and get started on your defense. We use decades of experience, diligence, and expansive knowledge of NJ and federal gun laws to fight for clients statewide on a daily basis. No matter what, our attorneys will also do everything we can to preserve your rights and best interests as we devise the most effective defense approach to get your charges reduced, dropped in court, or dismissed through an alternative mechanism like a diversionary program. For more information and a free consultation, contact (201)-614-2474 today.

The Meaning of Straw Purchasing of Guns

In essence, straw purchasing is lying for someone else to get a gun. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) defines straw purchases as gun purchases for others who may not legally possess a firearm or do not want their name associated with a gun purchase. For example, those who plan to commit burglary, robbery, or other crimes using a gun do not want their names on gun applications, even when they can obtain a gun from an unlicensed dealer.

Additionally, a 2022 law titled the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act makes it illegal to transfer of a firearm to someone known to be a prohibited person under the law. The law includes receiving a firearm, knowing that it is a felony to have a gun, or the attempt or conspiracy to transfer or receive a firearm, knowing it is a felony to acquire a weapon. The person may be a certain person under federal law or could be a person intending to commit a crime with a gun. In essence, a straw purchaser violates federal law by making false statements on a gun purchase application and by aiding and abetting a straw purchaser. The person who buys the firearm on behalf of someone else, and the person who receives it, are both violating the law when a straw gun buy occurs.

Charges and Penalties for Straw Purchases of Firearms in New Jersey 

A straw purchase is a federal crime that could lead to ten years in prison and a $250,000.00 fine. A conviction results in a felony criminal record. Moreover, it is a federal crime to make false statements to a licensed dealer on a government form to purchase a firearm. Form 4473 requires a purchaser to declare they are the actual buyer. Likewise, a conviction for making false statements on a federal form carries a ten-year prison sentence and a significant fine. Further, arranging a straw purchase (aiding and abetting) is a federal crime violating the Gun Control Act of 1968, as affirmed in Abramski v. United States, 573 U.S. 169 (2014).

In addition to federal law, New Jersey law also prohibits providing false information of a gun permit application. This is a distinct crime under state law in New Jersey that applies more broadly to offenses for lying on a gun permit application. Making a false statement on a gun license or permit application in New Jersey is a third degree crime, punishable by three to five years in prison and a $15,000.00 fine. A person charged with this offense faces conviction when the prosecution proves that they knowingly made a false statement of fact, name, or address on a gun permit or license application. Thus, when you make a straw purchase, you may be subject to federal and state penalties, depending on the charges filed in your case.

NJ Straw Purchase of Weapons Case Example

In a recent New Jersey straw purchase case, the defendant was convicted of receiving five firearms from straw purchases. The charge was aiding and abetting the straw purchasers who made false statements to buy guns for him. Since he had a 2015 felony conviction, the defendant was a prohibited person under the law and prohibited from purchasing firearms.

The straw purchasers made false statements on ATF forms to purchase firearms, stating they were the actual buyers receiving the guns, while they knew the defendant was the ultimate receiver. The police found 30 guns, ammunition, and fuel filters for making gun silencers when they searched the defendant’s property. The judge sentenced him to two years in prison and three years of supervision after release. Part of his sentence was giving up the guns, ammunition, and paraphernalia.

How Straw Purchases Operate Outside of the Confines of the Law

Even though most investigations into the illegal distribution of guns reveal straw purchases as a primary source of gun trafficking, law-breaking gun dealers and other retailers also account for guns entering the public domain illegally. Corrupt dealers and pawnbrokers are those willing to make questionable sales and fail to keep government-mandated records. Unlicensed dealers also help keep the illegal market supplied with guns since they typically do not run background checks. Illegal gun purchasers know about this loophole and exploit it by abetting straw purchases or purchasing firearms outright.

Specifically, a national survey reports over 30,000 attempts at straw purchases annually. Also, approximately 50 percent of all gun dealers responded in the affirmative when asked about whether they were willing to participate in a questionable transaction under the law, according to one investigation reviewed in a national survey of licensed firearm dealers. Another investigation found that one-fifth of all gun dealer respondents agreed to participate in straw purchasing, whereby someone was purchasing a weapon for someone else.

Distinction Between Straw Purchasers of Firearms and Traffickers

Gun trafficking differs from straw purchases in that traffickers transport guns purchased in other states to sell illegally in other states. Thus, a gun purchaser in a state with more lenient gun laws sells firearms on the black market in states with strict gun laws, thereby undermining the aim of tough gun laws. Straw purchasing is one type of method that is used to facilitate gun trafficking. In fact, it is the most common method of dispersing illegal guns, according to federal investigations.

Get Help if You Have been Charged with Straw Purchasing of a Weapon in NJ

Your alleged involvement with a straw purchase can lead to years in prison in New Jersey. Whether federal or state criminal charges have been filed against you, our aggressive team of gun defense attorneys can help you prepare for a successful defense. Our level of understanding in the realm of firearms law is virtually endless, having successfully handled countless gun cases and other state and federal cases involving weapons across the state. We provide free consultations 24/7 so please do not hesitate to contact our lawyers when you need assistance right away.