Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney
Philadephia's failed Mayor Jim Kenney (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
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Philadelphia officials desperate to blame-shift responsibility for the crime control failures are suing firearm retailers.

Philadelphia is suing three firearm retailers – Frank’s Gun Shop Double Tap Shooting Range and Delia’s Gun Shop in Northeast Philadelphia, and Tanner’s Sports Center in Bucks County – alleging the businesses are participating in illegal straw purchases, an illicit criminal activity where an individual lies on the background check form that they are the actual purchasers and instead sells or transfers a firearm to someone who can’t or won’t be associated with the sale of a firearm.

Philadelphia City Law Department officials say that these stores are knowingly participating in the illegal straw purchases because firearms recovered at crimes have been traced back to sales originating at these stores. That allegation might play well to gun control groups and politicians but is devoid of any legal foundation. The crime of an illegal straw purchase is committed by the individual lying on the form, a crime that NSSF has been actively warning the public against committing.

Know the Difference

City officials are attempting to confuse and mislead the public between what is a legal sale and illegal purchase of a firearm. Every firearm sold at retail by a licensed dealer requires the purchaser to complete an ATF Form 4473, which includes the buyer’s signature attesting they are the actual purchaser (the true intended recipient) of the firearm. That purchaser’s information is then verified by the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Except in Pennsylvania, this is verified by the Pennsylvania Instant Criminal Background Check System (PICS) because the state is a point-of-contact (POC) state that conducts their own background checks through the Commonwealth’s state police.

This happens for every firearm sold at retail. Pennsylvania also requires universal background checks for all handgun transfers including those between private parties.

The firearm industry has partnered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and Department of Justice (DOJ) for more than 20 years in the “Don’t Lie for the Other Guy” public awareness campaign. These efforts include blanketing cities selected by the ATF with advertising reminding the public that lying on a Form 4473 and committing the crime of an illegal straw purchase of a firearm carries up to a 15-year prison sentence and a $250,000 fine.

NSSF just hosted one of these month-long public awareness campaigns in Philadelphia in June of 2022. It was the sixth time since at least 2009 that NSSF, along with ATF and DOJ, brought the campaign to a Pennsylvania city and the second time it was held in Philadelphia.

The City of Philadelphia’s Law Department is basing their lawsuit on the shakiest of foundations. City officials argue that multiple sales of firearms are suspect, which isn’t true. Individuals can purchase multiple firearms at the same time. That has never been illegal in Pennsylvania. The same procedures apply if someone buys just one firearm a year or if they purchase multiple firearms at once. Fill out the Form 4473, sign it, run the PICS check.

It’s the Crime, Stupid…

City officials also argue that firearm retailers should know that “gun-related crimes are a directly foreseeable consequence” of their sales. That’s ludicrous. Background checks for firearm sales topped over 1 million per month for four years running, in part because Americans are refusing to be victims of crime. That’s the case in Philadelphia where Brenda Adams is among a group of women training with “Terry’s Angels” to learn to safely and effectively use a legally-owned firearm because crime is out of control.

“Carjackings, murder, it scared me,” Adams said in a CBS News report. “I’ve been living in Philadelphia almost 64 years and I’ve never seen anything like this. That’s why I carry a gun.”

Adams isn’t wrong to be worried. So far in 2023, there have been 255 homicides in the city. There were 516 in 2022. In 2023, there have been over 900 shooting victims. Those are staggering figures but don’t expect city officials to hold criminals to account.

Larry Krasner
Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

George Soros-backed District Attorney Larry Krasner’s response to Philadelphia’s rampant crime was to lash out for more gun control, not criminal control.

“Finally, I just want to say this: it is disgusting, the lack of proper gun legislation that we have in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” DA Krasner said at a press conference immediately following the tragic shootings and before facts were gathered. This is despite the fact the Brady gun control report card gives Pennsylvania a Top 10 spot in America for states with the strictest gun control laws. Everytown for Gun Safety ranks it at Number 15 and Giffords’ gun control gives it the same – 15 out of the 50 states with an added “B-” for good measure.

DA Krasner’s posturing is ironic. State legislators – elected by voters – successfully voted to impeach him last year for his abysmal record of keeping the public safe and holding criminals to account for their crimes. The Pennsylvania Senate failed to convict him, which would have required a two-thirds vote.

Mayor Cut Police, Demands Lawsuit

Philadelphia’s Mayor Jim Kenney isn’t any better. He oversaw the Sheriff’s Office that “lost” more than 200 firearms but makes outlandish claims like, “You can say you back the blue but if you don’t back gun control and gun availability, you don’t back the blue.”

This is the same Mayor Kenney that allowed a cut of $33 million to kowtow to the “defund the police” efforts that decimated the city’s police force. He’s the same mayor who responded to criminals murdering two Philadelphia police officers by telling media, “I’m waiting for something bad to happen all the time. So I’ll be happy when I’m not here, when I’m not mayor, and I can enjoy some stuff.”

Harry Hurley, a columnist for WPG Radio published a column last year headlined, “Philadelphia, You Have Mayor Kenney & DA Krasner To Thank …” In it, he wrote, “When you create a lawless environment, this is exactly the result that you should expect.”

Mayor Kenney proclaimed that he would sue firearm retailers and now he’s made good on his threat. It seems he thinks it is more expedient to blame a business that didn’t commit a crime than the criminal that does. The problem is Mayor Kenney and his city hall lawyers are glossing over the fact that individuals commit the crime of straw purchases. It isn’t an illegal sale.

Portland crime scene
(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

The business isn’t to blame for the criminal lying on the form and illegally transferring a firearm to a prohibited individual. Tracing a firearm from a crime scene back to a retailer doesn’t demonstrate that retailer ran afoul of the law. It is why Congress wisely passed legislation that bars trace data from being admitted as evidence – because it isn’t evidence. Over 90 percent of federal convicts in prison for committing a crime admit they obtained that firearm through illicit means. That’s through the black market, theft or trading on a street corner.

Philadelphia is more interested in doing the bidding of gun control supporters and clogging the courts with baseless lawsuits. Instead, they should join the work that NSSF, the ATF and DOJ are doing to prevent illegal straw purchases and lock up the criminals that commit these crimes.


Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

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  1. “City officials also argue that firearm retailers should know that “gun-related crimes are a directly foreseeable consequence” of their sales.”

    In that case, those addicted to pain killers can sue the hospitals and physicians that prescribe those drugs to them in the first place, forcing them to buy on the streets…

    Game, on! 😉

    • Geoff, and while we are at it let’s sue automobile makers for their products certainly kill and hurt people daily.

      • Yeah, I have a car with a “high capacity engine” that could allow me to drive 3 times faster than the speed limit. I should be required to limit my horsepower to avoid risking the lives of innocent bystanders. Oh yeah, and sue the manufacturer for a “straw purchase” situation where I let my wife drive the car. Just kidding, my wife is too scared to drive my muscle car…

  2. “City officials also argue that firearm retailers should know that “gun-related crimes are a directly foreseeable consequence” of their sales.”

    City officials should not be that stupid to think one can predict the future, but here we are.

    None of the guns I ever bought at a gun store have ever been involved in a ‘gun-related’ crime.

    • Oh and to add;

      None of the guns I ever bought at a gun store have ever been involved in a ‘gun-related’ crime and neither have 99.9995% of the guns owned by people. That’s right, of all the legally owned and possessed guns in the United States less than 0.0005% are used in “gun-related crimes”

      There is no “directly foreseeable consequence” of “gun-related crimes” from firearm retailer sales.

    • straw-purchasing is more likely in gun shops adjacent to crime-ridden cesspools like Philadelphia…just a fact of life…any dealer can refuse a sale to anyone they deem suspicious..beyond that what can they be expected to do?

  3. lying on a Form 4473 and committing the crime of an illegal straw purchase of a firearm carries up to a 15-year prison sentence and a $250,000 fine.

    Unless your last name is “Bribem”…

    Isn’t that the same idiot mayor that was dancing around his office with his secretary singing “We’re a sanctuary city”…

      • Yeah, he was all over cable news for days doing that stupid little dance… A few years older but still just as stupid…

      • MADDMAXX August 8, 2023 At 19:16
        Your comment is awaiting moderation
        Yeah, he was all over cable news for days doing that stupid little dance… A few years older but still just as stupid…

        NOW, just what the EVER-LOVING FUCK is wrong with THAT… 23 words and some punctuation, clean, no personal shit… So, time to take another break? Looks like it…

  4. All part of the agenda! We need to make it harder to go after the good guys than it is to go after the scumbags!!

  5. If the 1st judge to see this suit doesn’t throw it out as frivolous, the judicial system is truly corrupt.

  6. Mayor Kenney?
    This is the 🤡 who stated during an interview that he lays in bed some mornings lamenting the fact he’s Mayor of Philadelphia.
    Congratulations Philly, you elected someone with the intellect of a pre-pubesent Goth girl as your Mayor. Enjoy the ride, you enable it.

  7. M­y­ l­a­s­t­ p­a­y­ c­h­e­c­k­ w­a­s­ $12000 w­o­r­k­i­n­g­ 12 h­o­u­r­s­ a­ w­e­e­k­ o­n­l­i­n­e­. m­y­ s­i­s­t­e­r­s­ f­r­i­e­n­d­ h­a­s­ b­e­e­n­ a­v­e­r­a­g­i­n­g­ 15k­ f­o­r­ m­o­n­t­h­s­ n­o­w­ a­n­d­ s­h­e­ w­o­r­k­s­ a­b­o­u­t­ 20 h­o­u­r­s­ a­ w­e­e­k­. i­ c­a­n­’t­ b­e­l­i­e­v­e­ h­o­w­ e­a­s­y­ i­t­ w­a­s­ o­n­c­e­ i­ t­r­i­e­d­ i­t­ o­u­t­. t­h­i­s­ i­s­ w­h­a­t­ i­ d­o­.

  8. Didn’t Philadelphia one of those cities that sued the state because the state’s pre-emption law barred it from enacting far more comprehensive gun control/ban ordinances? And got slapped down hard? So now it is, if at first you don’t succeed, sue sue again. Idiots. they’d rather put law abiding business owners in jail that actual criminals.

    • Organized crime doesn’t like non-members interfering with business – ICE agents, shopkeepers terrorizing wise guys running protection rackets, burglars (who are looking pay off drug dealers or loansharks) afraid to burgle for fear of being shot – all are BAD FOR BUSINESS.

      Hence ‘sanctuary cities’ and unarmed citizens are primary goals of the powers that be…

      Always good to consider when trying to discern the motives of urban politicians – all criminals are not leftists, but all leftists are criminals.

    • their city is out of control…and they’re looking for scapegoats to conceal their own failures…anyone who goes on tv and lauds the gun laws in New Jersey in a stupid rant is beyond reasoning with..

      • Try this as a working hypothesis – by their own lights they are not falling. Things are going Tony the Tiger GREAT!

        Why do you think she giggles so much?

        But yeah. they will scapegoat you in a heartbeat.

  9. NEW ATF Rule! I WOULD Have Gone to Prison! Are You a Gun Dealer? Sell this Many Guns And FELONY. (note: not a rule yet….but notice the mention of gun control groups, in case no one noticed they are the ones writing these insane rules of late and that came out in the house hearings…pure tyranny, our government is completely compromised and is no longer the peoples government nor is it any longer a constitutional government.)

    • an item of concern to someone my age who’s considering selling-off at least some of my collection…this bears watching….

  10. I’ve been a customer of one of my local Gun stores for nearly 50 years. The owner and I are also friends. I’ve watched Keith and his employees turn down sales to individuals behaving suspiciously. But not every Gun Store Employee is astute enough to recognize the subtle signs that a purchase may be a Straw Purchase.
    The city may indeed find that proving the Store’s “Knowingly” participated in a Straw Purchase may be much more difficult to prove.
    I’ve stood in line at the counter of some big box stores and watched some obvious Straw Purchases take place. Made me wonder if the store even bothered to train their employees at all.

  11. Unfortunately, they probably know exactly what they are doing because it is happening across the Country. They are picking on people to decrease the number of firearms and their policies only result in more gun sales like 48,000,000 million sold in the last 4 years. Like typical Lefties every time they create another issue they get beat in court and more people buy more guns legally. The definition of crazy is repeating the same act over and over and coming out with the same result. Identifies Lefty, Liberal, Radical, Democrats to a Tee.

  12. The gun business should sue him for defamation of character/Slander..He can not prove anything he is spewing…

  13. Well, Ibe scratching me ‘ead here.

    When some fool drives a truck into a crowd, do they go after the truck?

    Should trucks be banned? No.

    Wait until the crazies re-discover mulatov pumpkins. You can deny 2d amendment rights all day long, but you will never outlaw gasoline and glass bottles?

    We don’t need gun control. We’ve enough gun laws.

    We need to ENFORCE our existing laws.

    We also need universal MENTAL HEALTH CARE, and for the cops to stop shirking when they get a hint that a person is not right…. cops are not doing their jobs.

    Let’s just order some more donuts and coffee?

    I’m just sayin’…

  14. Many in charge refuse to hold criminals accountable. Because they say we have to many people being locked up.
    They are more concerned with the prison population. Instead of the growing crinimal population running free.

  15. The goal of the Gun grabbers is to cost gun owners and FFL’s money to defend themselves in court. This way if they put an FFL out of business, the prevent gun sales or so they think.

  16. Democrats are always great at making things worse while blaming something that isn’t the problem in the first place.

  17. I suppose their logic is that there can’t be any straw-purchasing if the gun shop goes out of business

  18. The people of that city as in every large city pay high taxes to fund police departments and now add to the attorney fees for lawsuits that should be federal cases. Suing several businesses using unlimited taxpayer funds including the accused tax dollars will cost loss of sales tax and create unemployment. The unemployed often turn to a life of crime and become mayors and such.

    Time to scrub the FBI and ATF, and shut the White House up. They want to bury the 2nd? Okay, if police stop carrying first. Then drop the 1st amendment next and police provide their own vehicles And walk a “beat” daily. No more drug bust civil forfeitures or year long undercover gigs to collect evidence while drugs are sold right in front of them. Last, not least IRS audit yearly of police, city, state and federal government employees and the elected elitists.

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