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“Who is responsible when a criminal points a gun at point blank range and tries to kill them? Yes the criminal pulled the trigger — but there needed to be a trigger to pull. That came from the straw buyer.” – Attorney Patrick Dunphy in Trial now underway: Is gun shop liable after two MPD officers were shot & seriously injured? [at]

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    • The statement presented is true, and if we are going to obey the law then not permitting straw buyers to purchase weapons for and on behalf of those who have been denied the right to own or possess a weapon. With the straw purchase here, the gun would have to have been secured elsewhere. The shooter retains responsibility, but the straw buyer aided and abetted.

      As presented in the article, this is a question of fact-finding that a jury is needed for. Should BG have treated the initial “yes I am a straw buyer” and wrong address as a red flag? Maybe. If so, then do they bear some of the burden for their negligence? If not, then that’s also ok.

      Of course, I suspect BG couldn’t have won here. Make the sale and this happens. Deny the sale and get accused of racism.

  1. Unless they weren’t a convicted felon before that and passed a background check. Or stole the gun. Or it was passed to them by ATF agents. Then there wouldn’t be a straw buyer.

  2. This is the next progression in gun control… “we’ve closed all the loopholes and criminals are still getting guns, time to just shut down the legal shops.” This is of course inevitable because the gun grabbers know they can’t do a damned thing about criminals who make their own firearms and the straw purchase is ALWAYS going to be a significant source of firearms beyond theft that can’t be turned off.

  3. And when a shyster is chasing a bloody ambulance, can you swerve to hit the varmit or must you try to avoid denting your bumper.

  4. “Burton, who has a history of mental illness”

    The bigger question is why was this guy roaming the streets at all? Maybe the cops should instead sue the doctors and judges that said he was no danger to society.

    • When the asylums were closed years ago it was determined that patient autonomy was more important than the community’s safety. If you want doctors to have the power to easily commit people for longer than a few days then you need to fully understand the extent of that power. Also realize that “mental illness” means many things. I can’t put someone in an asylum for doing dumb things when they are drunk even though they have alcoholism (an illness).

      • I can recommend the book “My Brother Ron” by our friend Clayton E. Cramer. It is a sympathetic story of both the mentally ill (his brother) and the history of society’s attempts to deal with the problem.

        I think that the Anti’s will use the mental illness prohibiting criteria as a major weapon to advance gun-control. We PotG need to be conversant with the details of the issue to hold-our-own and win this public debate.

      • They were closed down because the asylums were a massive violation of civil, Constitutional, and natural rights.

        • Not the only possible viewpoint that is potentially valid. Read “My Brother Ron”.

          There is NO easy answer here; there are problems with EVERY possible answer.

          One thing that ought to be clear: What the Progressives have brought us is not the best we can do.

          I’m pleased that you, at least, are satisfied with the Progressives treatment of the asylum problem.

  5. Next up, sue the plant that made the steel…
    They should have known it would be made into a gun!

  6. If there was an actual straw purchase, then prosecute the straw purchaser. (Oh, that’s right: the feds only do that when both the purchaser and eventual owner can both legally possess firearms.)

    If the purchaser lied on the Form 4473, then prosecute the purchaser. (Oh, that’s right: the feds don’t do that, at all.)

    In either case: how does that have anything to do with the FFL who, from his perspective, conducted a perfectly lawful sale?

  7. And the gun shop is not responsible, either. Here’s the reason that straw purchasers will never be prosecuted.

    They are, for the most part, the girlfriends of criminals. They are poor, and have several kids, and are on state assistance. No DA in an inner city will prosecute someone like that. Why? Their opponent would have a field day with it in the next election.

    Far easier to blame gun owners/merchants. They aren’t in the DA’s constituency and there’s no political fallout for harassing them. You can even say you’re tough on crime.

  8. Did anyone read the story? The buyer changed two of his answers on the form, one being if they were buying for someone else. The guy selling the gun supposedly didn’t ask any questions after that. The straw purchaser was paid $40, the guy selling could have told him, if he suspected, about the consequences of being convicted as a straw purchaser. Seems fishy to me. I’ve been in a store were they don’t allow people on cell phones and they don’t allow foreign languages to be spoken to deter straw purchases.

    • “… the guy selling could have told him, if he suspected, about the consequences of being convicted as a straw purchaser.”

      And, as Chip pointed out above, those consequences of being a straw purchaser are almost universally nothing.

    • I think most gun stores don’t want to be labeled ” racist ” by making the process of filing paper work for gun purchases to difficult. If someone has a clean criminal record, is able to point out the gun they want and has the means to pay for it, and answers all the questions correctly on the ATF form 4473, you should not deny them the sale without possibly facing racial discrimination charges. Not understanding federal paper work your first time filling it out is nothing new.

      • Great points! It looks different with that information plugged in. When I bought an AR early in the summer, I made a couple mistakes, because it had been several years since my last purchase. They were pointed out to me, and I made the corrections.

        The form doesn’t need to made harder. In fact, I question its usefulness at all.

  9. Where does the culpability rest? With the straw-buyer; or, the dealer?

    The claim seems to be that the dealer knew or should-have-known. The dealer’s defense is that he perceived the customer to be dyslexic and needed help in understanding the questions on the form.

    OK, so, let’s try this on and see where it takes us. The straw-buyer is an ignorant dupe, a pawn in the hands of the actual buyer. He can be forgiven for playing his role. Very well.

    Then, the dealer is expected to be a forensic psychologist. As such, he is to be held culpable for negligence in making the wrong decision for selling the gun to someone who turns out to be a straw-buyer.

    Very well, then the dealer needs to take precautions. Erect a sign on his shop:

    “No guns for negros!
    Unless you have a 4-year degree from a reputable college or university,
    pass a literacy examination and a psychological examination on truthfulness,
    we will not sell you a gun.
    A master’s degree will be required of females who are black.
    No Latinos with tattoos.
    Selected exceptions may be made for customers with a letter from
    a recognized range attesting to being a member in good standing for 5 years.”

    I.e., the fundamental right to acquire arms will be subject to a privately-defined literacy test – and other tests – based upon age, race, sex, education and any other subjective criteria the dealer deems prudent to protect himself against lawsuits.

    How do I really feel about this prospect? Does the social objective of keeping guns out-of-the-hands of people who shouldn’t have them trump the right of the People on the lower rungs of the social hierarchy to self-defense?

    Our civil rights laws have a concept of “places of public accommodation”; e.g., if Woolworth’s lunch counter is such a place it may not discriminate against patrons on the basis of race, etc. How do I really feel about laws based upon some principle of “public accommodation”? Not that anyone cares how I feel now that this is fairly-well established law. Yet, this case seems to raise a logical extension of the principle.

    Is an arms dealer a place of public accommodation? Apparently, acquisition of arms is a right implied by the the right to keep and bear. If there is a right to buy arms then is there a right not to be discriminated against by a Federally licensed dealer in arms?

    Could a dealer in megaphones or printing presses discriminate against a patron on the basis of race, etc.?

    Perhaps, in the interest in public safety, licensed dealers really do need to discriminate on the basis of race, literacy, intelligence or other useful criteria. Any customer who can’t meet contemporary standards of local licensed dealers must buy their guns in the secondary market; i.e., from sellers who are not licensed dealers.

    But wait! UBC calls for FFLs to officiate in the formalities of BC and 4473 forms when a non-dealer wishes to transfer to another person. Will FFLs officiating in such transfers be held to the same standards for vetting the transferee? Presumably so.

    Then, it follows that the member of the low-cast desirous of exercising her fundamental right to acquire an arm must resort to the black-market. Will a black-market seller be held to the same standards as the FFL?

    • Oh, stop it MarkPA! It doesn’t matter if laws are effective … all that matters is that a law feels good!


      • Yes, that’s why I stated that I have misgivings about how I really feel about this course of reasoning.

        In the case of the LGS, I REALLY FEEL that the dealer has a proprietary right to refuse “service” (actually to refuse to sell a product) to someone on merely a subjective sense that that buyer is not responsible enough to undertake the responsibilities of gun ownership.

        And, then, I’m really shaken by the realization that my FEELINGS would authorize a sign: “No guns for Negros!” which I find even more disgusting than the prospect of a dealer selling a gun to a woman I wouldn’t have sold a gun to.

        Where does a society – such as ours – resolve the tension between such feelings?

        How about we have a LGS refuse to sell to a long string of single black mothers who thereupon bring a law-suit that gets appealed to SCOTUS? It should be SCOTUS that decides how our society REALLY feels about this dilemma. Rights of proprietors vs. the fundamental rights of minorities to KBA.

        Alternatively, maybe these are questions about which interested parties in our society (PotG, hoplophobes, advocates for minorities, civil-rights lawyers) ought to ruminate about first. Each of us might come to look at the dilemma – and other related issues (such as the role of guns in the hands of law-abiding civilians) in new and useful ways.

    • “Then, the dealer is expected to be a forensic psychologist.”

      No, apparently he is supposed to close up shop because he might accidentally make a mistaken judgement of a prospective gun buyer, and sell a gun to someone who’ll use the gun evilly! Imagine if we ran the whole of society like this: “Sorry, sir, but your driver’s license application has been declined. Seems there is a history of traffic accidents in your family.”

      I’m sure you guys can come up with some sadder examples than that, even.

  10. Who would he be suing if the dude bludgeoned the cops with a hammer he bought at Ace Hardware?

  11. On paper, it seems like a good idea to apply some accountability to a straw purchaser when the recipient uses the firearm to attack someone … perhaps charge the straw purchaser as an accessory to the attack.

    In reality, accountability is elusive. The prosecutor would have to establish that the straw purchaser knew the recipient was a prohibited person … which is next to impossible unless the straw purchaser is stupid enough to admit that in sworn testimony. Additionally, the prosecutor would have to establish that acquisition of the firearm was instrumental in the attack and acquired for the attack. Again, it is next to impossible to establish that unless the straw purchaser was stupid enough to admit it in sworn testimony. I suppose if the purchaser had written down a plan on paper or someone recorded him/her participating in the plan that would work as well … if the prosecutor somehow uncovered that evidence. But how often is that going to happen?

    The reality is that prosecuting someone for a straw purchase is next to impossible. As long as straw purchasers exercise their right to remain silent, they are going to walk just about every time.

    • Your comments seem to contemplate a 2-tier straw-buyer crime:
      – WITH a subsequent crime; and,
      – withOUT a subsequent crime.

      There are numerous ways to slice-and-dice a genre of crime making arguments for greater or lesser penalties. Such exercises are useful because they are illuminating; especially so when they eventually lead to the conclusion that the attempt to define the crime might be of little value.

      When there IS a subsequent crime the prosecutor or plaintiff can try to make the case, just as you describe. It’s difficult; but, then, so are all sorts of prosecutions and torts difficult. That, by itself, ought not to damn the quest for justice.

      But what about the straw-buy that CAN’T be traced to a subsequent crime? The principal is simply found felon-in-posession and implicates his (girl-)friend. Alas, we know the answer here. Prosecutors are loath to pursue such cases because of their ambiguity and poor potential for wresting a plea-agreement from the defendant.

      I offer that every straw-buy case that DOES END in a subsequent crime BEGINS as a case that has NOT-YET so ended. The (girl-)friend knows (or should-have-known) that the gun-buy-and-transfer-to-principal is illegal. And s/he knows that the straw-buyer is rarely prosecuted for the reasons you – and here, I – have cited. It’s a question of time and circumstances as to whether the inevitable crime will be traced back to the straw-buyer.

      Andy buys in the FFL and gives to Bob who sells to Charlie who trades to David . . . In the course of likely subsequent transactions, the evidence of Andy’s straw-buy is laundered. When David is finally caught committing his first crime, or in felon-in-posession, some months may have passed. The gun might be traced to Andy – by which time Andy’s memory has faded as to when and to whom he sold the gun.

      Andy’s worst-case scenario is that Bob is arrested with Andy’s gun on the night following the date on the 4473 form. Even so, conventional wisdom in the hood is that straw-buyers are rarely prosecuted. When it happens, it’s a slap on the wrist. Andy has been lucky for 21 years; but he knows it’s just a matter of time before he is [un]justly convicted of a crime and is honored to do-his-time.

      I see no vehicle for putting teeth in the straw-buy law via pursuing transactions leading to subsequent crimes. (Here, I agree with you). The only vehicle is to prosecute ALL viable cases of straw-buys entirely independent of the presence of a subsequent crime. My proposed course of action implies a racially-tainted process:
      – minority inner-city residents whose guns turn-up in crimes, felon-in-posession or abandoned, are prosecuted;
      – OFWGs whose guns are lost are presumed innocent.

      There are two obvious objections. Inner-city residents – particularly minority single mothers – whose guns are – in fact – stolen will be prosecuted and become convicted felons because they fit the stereotype. OFWGs in counties where they are deemed politically incorrect will be persecuted when their only fault was not having purchased an adequate gun safe.

      Neither of these outcomes is consistent with an embrace of liberty. The straw-buying channel will quickly generate an intermediary step. 1-Straw-buy -> 2-Police-report-gun-stolen -> 3-transfer-to-felon. Then, prosecutors will have to decide how many “free” stolen gun reports each inner-city resident is entitled to with a presumption of innocence. Recruitment of straw-buyers will have to widen to accommodate the straw-buying channel’s volume.

      (Presumably, some large fraction of illegal guns are stolen from lawful owners; suppose 50%. And, another large fraction are straw-bought either by amateurs or traffickers; suppose 30%. Leaving 20% for other channels. The recruitment of straw-buyers needs only expand to accommodate 30% of the total flow of guns into the illegal market. I suggest that the supply of qualified straw-buyers is large enough to meet demand.)

      UBC is presumed to choke-off the opportunity for straw-buyers to transfer guns to prohibited principals. Very well; however, if the straw-buyer reports the gun as having been stolen, UBC is easily evaded. Police time will be spent making token investigations of victims who report their gun was stolen when they ran an errand leaving a window open for ventilation.

      Straw-buying might become commercialized to some extent. E.g., a gang finances the acquisition of an inventory purchased by a team of affiliated qualified straw-buyers. Each straw-buyer waits a respectable time – 3 to 6 months – before reporting her/his gun stolen. Thereupon, the reported gun goes into active inventory, available for use by any gang member. Retribution on any participant who turns State’s evidence would be swift and severe. Prosecutors would be sensitive to this threat and not pursue suspicious cases.

      Is the “crime” of straw-buying actually counter-productive?

      How about making the NICS check merely ADVISORY. That is, ALLOW a PROHIBITED-PERSON to complete his purchase after WARNING him that he had come-up as a prohibited person. When the customer – so warned – proceeds to take delivery the ATF and local constabulary is notified.

      These LE agencies can decide – based on the rap sheet – what to make of the transaction. They could decide it does not warrant pursuit; or, that they need to pay a call on the customer. Depending upon the seriousness of the situation the police could arrest the gun buyer or simply report the case to the prosecutor.

      A variation might be to require the prohibited person to wait 3 days to take delivery. LE would then have the opportunity to stop the delivery or proceed swiftly to confiscate the gun if they deemed such action genuinely warranted.

      What would such an approach accomplish?
      – move some transactions from the black-market to the regulated retail market;
      – facilitate tracing of some crime guns to the actual first purchaser;
      – remove prior restraint and delays in doubtful cases (e.g., confusion of identity);
      – notify law-abiding citizens that they have an apparent criminal/mental record problem to be cleared up;
      – focus law-enforcement resources on felon-in-posession vs. “paperwork” violations.
      – keep otherwise law-abiding straw-buyers OUT of the criminal activity of straw-buying.

      Bear in mind, I am NOT here advocating for the current definitions of prohibited-person criteria. Nor am I really advocating for NICS. Instead, I’m simply trying to stir-up-trouble by introducing a controversy that might cause interested parties to begin questioning gun-control at point-of-sale. I.e., to begin to erode the presumption that NICS is a mighty-good-idea that ought to be extended; and instead, to open a fissure by which NICS (and then UBC) might be undermined.

      I am NOT an advocate of demanding full-roll-back of a gun-control under threat that we PotG will hold-our-breath until we turn-blue waiting for our demands to be realized in full.

      Nor am I much of a fan of “compromise” as that term is used by Progressives.

      Instead, I propose a tactic of engaging in “meaningful and constructive dialogue” about “reform” of existing laws that will reduce their side-effects (threatening single mothers for non-violent crimes) and reducing burdens on law-abiding gun-owners. If – but ONLY IF – we can get a dialogue started with gun-control sympathizers can we get some of them to begin to understand the devil-in-the-details and why such “common-sense” and “reasonable” measures (e.g., UBC) won’t work very well.

  12. Lawyers go after those with perceived money or for a political objective. The Straw Purchaser likely has no money. The Gun Shop theoretically does and this could also accomplish a political objective if the judge or jury agrees with the attorney’s logic. So, this is inevitable. But needs to be fought because it is another nail in the coffin of freedom for those of us who believe in the 2nd Amendment and the right to self defense.

  13. Don’t mind the legal argument. The mind boggling moment is when the second attorney says “who is responsible for a criminal when he pulls a gun from his pocket and shoots at police officers with the intent to kill”.

    Uh…err…you think perhaps it would be said criminal? That would be a good start, except there’s no coin it for the two officers, still on duty, going to collect full salary for disability claims.

    And to think a minimum of 10 lives altered because two hard charging cops just had to stop a black man for riding a bike on a sidewalk…unless that was a standard infringment ruse to do a warrantless search. Hard charging police work, protecting citizens in all that.

  14. We have seen real progress in the expansion of gun rights through court challenges. The McDonald and Hellar supreme court decisions changed everything. The anti-civil rights bigots have noted this and can be forgiven for trying to imitate this strategy. They will not succeed. Gun control through the courts is a losing proposition. New legal theories that attempt to stretch civil and criminal liability to third and even fourth parties with tenuous connections to criminal activity may play well on MSNBC but, they are doomed to failure.

  15. Maybe it’s not really about the dosh. Maybe it’s really about suing them into bankruptcy. The legal fees alone would sink most small business’s. I’d be interested to know if the cops started the lawsuit on their own or if someone else put them up to it. (Bloomturd)

  16. They always want to go after the gun shop or gun manufacturer because they are LAZY investigators and prosecutors and and it would be TOO HARD to do their jobs and go after the actual straw buyer who committed the crime. Scapegoating.

    • Except they KNOW who the straw purchaser IS, have him on video, and the document with his johnny H on it.

  17. How about punishing the straw buyers instead of the gun shops?

    Straw buyers should get hit with both the felony for the straw purchase, and accessory to whatever crime was committed with the firearm they bought. It should be a slam-dunk.

    • This is a dangerous course to take. Bear in mind how ambiguous a straw-buy case might turn-out to be.

      A single mother has a boyfriend. The boyfriend encourages her to think about how vulnerable she and her children are, living in this inner-city neighborhood. He encourages her to buy a gun. Great! Now HE has access to the gun and commits a crime. Prosecutor has little difficulty connecting the dots. As the jury sees it, it waddles-like-a-straw-buy and quacks-like-a-straw-buy.

      From a personal experience. I happened to visit my LGS and spotted a good deal on a pocket-pistol; a model I like. I bought it and brought it home in the shopping bag.

      That evening, my son was packing to go to med-school. I asked him if he wanted to take a gun. (He had his License to Carry) He said sure; so I pulled a gun from my gun safe and handed it to him. He took it, handled it, and said: “Do you have anything smaller.”

      Thereupon, I took the gun back and handed him the shopping bag. The next day I realized just how much that “transfer” looked like a straw-purchase. As I understand it, under PA law, I was entitled to transfer a handgun to my son without the usual paperwork. Even so, the timing of the purchase and subsequent transfer of THAT particular gun looks – from the outside – as nothing distinguishable from a straw-buy.

      On a subsequent visit I swapped-out the recently purchased gun for a like model I had bought some years earlier. Now, it’s a couple years later so the impression of a straw-buy has eroded further. There is NO chance my son would find himself in any trouble. He keeps the gun in a safe and doesn’t carry it. He’s extremely responsible.

      Even so, you can play this scenario through in some other case where an FFL purchase is followed by a transfer to a third party; and the transfer comes to light. E.g., the Abramski case. Absolutely NOTHING bad happened; yet, Abramski found himself appealing his straw-buying conviction to SCOTUS.

      Suppose Abramski’s transferee had gotten himself into some serious trouble; e.g., a DV case. There would have been a prosecutor with 4 nails and a cross with Abranski’s name inscribed on it. Never mind that the transferee took possession from his local FFL after a NICS check and 4473 form. The buyer was making a “STRAW-BUY!” And, that calls for crucifixion.

      Here we have an excellent case of the difficulties of malum prohibitum laws (Illegal-because-we-say-so). There is nothing intrinsically wrong with the act itself; it’s just a great pretext for a really satisfying crucifixion of someone we don’t like.

      • F “straw-purchase.” If you’ve ever pawned a gun, why did you buy it for the pawn shop. If you’ve had a gun illegally confiscated (without direct cause), why did you purchase the gun for the confiscating authority.

        If you purchased a gun AND USED IT, you have successfully and substantially complied with your affirmative answer on a Form 4473 (11a.). If you didn’t really like the gun WHO ARE YOU GOING TO RETURN IT TO? If you dispose of the weapon after that because you didn’t fully appreciate it (even for aesthetics) or YOU SUDDENLY FOUND YOURSELF IN A SUBSTANTIALLY LESSER FINANCIAL SITUATION, THEN YOU HAVE JUST FOUND YOURSELF IN A SITUATION THAT YOUR A-HOLE NEIGHBORS NEEDING JOBS. . .
        A/K/A: Y O U R F – I N G G O V E R N M E N T

        F THEM.

        if you illegally purchased a firearm for someone else’s ownership/possession, then you are only as good as your federal gov’t.

        • I think my sentiments are in line with yours; if I read you correctly.

          Now, how do we frame our arguments to undermine public support for the “straw-purchase” law?

          It does us no good to weep and gnash our teeth ineffectually with arguments that voters will not find even slightly interesting. We need to think of rhetoric that opens fissures in what passes for “common sense” and “reasonable” so that they begin to seem pointless and futile.

  18. Ambulance chaser

    AKA Scumbag – so when is he going to run for a Democrat seat in the legislature?

  19. “Who is responsible when a criminal points a gun at point blank range and tries to kill them?”

    THE PERSON BEING SHOT! That a-hole should’ve known that listening to liberal gun-grabbing POS (D)bags was going to leave them broke-di<k, sh_t-hangin-in-the-wind, dead. Just so some evil liberal blue satan's house of (D)head can impose their will on them and the rest of us.

  20. To me it is a simple matter, but of course when you bring the matter of the law into it, then you have a whole new ball game!
    The way I see it, the dealer, at worst, could be charged for selling a gun to a person reasonable suspected to be a straw purchaser. If convicted then he would pay the price for that action, and that action ALONE!
    What the purchaser did with the gun after the purchase is a separate matter!
    If you bought a large book, and hit some old lady on the head and killed her with it, are the relatives gonna sue the book store? Of course not.
    As long as the dealer was not a part of, or knew of a conspiracy to murder someone, he should not be held responsible for anything other than his OWN actions!

    • No; provided that the recipient is a person you neither know nor have reason to believe is a preheated person.

  21. Gun control = TREASON. The police shoot and kill innocent people ALL the time and they walk. THIS is why people should not be harassed about carrying guns.
    No double standards put DC politicians on Obamacare and SS.Thanks for your support and vote. Pass the word.

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