Straw Purchases

Straw Purchases – Better Education Helps Avoid

An unfortunate occurrence in the firearms business is the act of straw purchasing. A straw purchase is when the actual purchaser of the firearm is unable to purchase the weapon him/herself because of the inability to pass a background check and thus has someone else do so for them. If a customer walks into your store and says blatantly that they are purchasing the gun for someone who cannot do so themselves, you should not go through with the sale.

Holding a FFL license is like being an extension of the ATF. There is no national database of firearms in the U.S., so when the ATF needs to track down a weapon used in a crime, they must follow the paper trail. That means starting at the manufacturer, then the wholesaler that serial number went to, which will then lead to a dealer. The dealer will look through the Form 4473s and find the one which corresponds to the serial number the ATF is looking for. They’ll use that information to track down the customer to see if the gun has since changed possession.

If the person whose name is on the 4473 was not the actual purchaser of the firearm, it could very likely lead the ATF to a dead end. Finding the person who possessed the weapon could be the difference between the criminal being convicted, or even caught, and going free. When gun crimes go unsolved, it can give politicians more incentive for tighter gun control.

FFL licensees have a lot of responsibility because of the ability of sell firearms. Your goal is to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. Refusing to sell a firearm to someone who you suspect is going through with a straw purchase is one way to accomplish that.

The ATF and NSSF have worked together to spread awareness about straw purchases and the penalties through the “Don’t Lie for the Other Guy” campaign. For more information on the “Don’t Lie for the Other Guy” campaign and to receive your informational kit, visit

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Brandon Maddox :