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house Bill H.R. 4939

Should Penalties for Straw Purchases of Firearms be Increased?

Argument in favor

Straw purchases of firearms are the leading source of trafficked guns, which are in turn often used in violent crimes. Increasing the punishment for this crime will help both deter the crime itself and more severely punish those who commit it in a manner that’s commensurate with their crimes.

Scott's Opinion
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11/23/2019
Yes, if it’s actually a deterrent...but if it’s not enforced, then it’s a moot point. How about establishing minimum guidelines that judges have to follow too?
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Rebekah 's Opinion
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11/23/2019
Certainly! There’s no excuse for a mass shooting a week. Stop letting gun manufacturers set public policy!
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Ron's Opinion
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11/23/2019
Yeah right. The feds don’t prosecute these crimes to begin with, what would be the point of increasing the penalties when they don’t bother with it now. According to the feds only less then 18% of all gun related crimes are ever prosecuted. Like, what happened to the other 82% dude. I’d be happy if they got off their ass now.
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Argument opposed

Straw purchases of firearms are already illegal at the federal level and have strong penalties (a fine of up to $250,000 and up to 10 years imprisonment). There’s no need to further raise the punishment for this crime. Instead, Congress should crack down on gun sellers with a track record of selling guns that are later tied to crimes.

jimK's Opinion
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11/23/2019
If the current fines go as high as $250,000 and 10 years imprisonment, I have a hard time understanding the need for this legislation. If sentencing guidelines need adjustment, I believe this can handled without legislation. I feel this is one of those ‘look, I did something good!’ packages for election year creds- when, in fact it does nothing. I wish congress would take action to stop this time wasting practice.
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Robert (steve)'s Opinion
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11/23/2019
The fines and penalties are high enough. What is lacking is the enforcement, background checks and the willingness to go against the NRA because of the money. Completely tired of representatives whoring themselves out for campaign contributions. Things have to change, we have to get back to the point were right is right.
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larubia's Opinion
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11/23/2019
We don’t need another law to mimic one that already exists. We need enforcement of the current law!
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
    IntroducedOctober 31st, 2019

What is House Bill H.R. 4939?

This bill — the STOP Straw Purchases Act — would amend the federal criminal code to establish new offenses for straw purchases of firearms. Specifically, this bill would create new federal offenses for inducing another person to make false statements to a licensed gun dealer about the actual identity of a firearm purchaser; and for obtaining a firearm by inducing another person to make false statements to a licensed gun dealer claiming to be the actual firearm purchaser.

This bill would also establish an enhanced penalty for a criminal offense involving a false statement to a licensed gun dealer in connection with a firearm acquisition, if the false statement misrepresents the actual identify of a firearm purchaser. The maximum punishment for the purchase and the receiver (defined as a person who transfers a firearm with reasonable cause to believe it will be used in a drug crime or violent crime) would be increased to a fine of up to $750,000 and a prison term of up to 25 years. Current law allows a fine of up to $250,000 and a person term of up to 10 years.

This bill also includes a “Kingpin Clause” that would make it illegal for any person affecting interstate commerce to have straw purchasers acquire firearms to enable a gun trafficking enterprise. This clause would affect anyone trying to traffic weapons across state lines, and would subject the kingpin to a fine of up to $1 million and a prison term of up to 30 years.

Finally, this bill would direct the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to include a statement outlining penalties for acting as the straw purchaser of a firearm on the Firearms Transaction Record form.

Impact

Firearms purchasers; firearms sellers; straw purchases of firearms; and punishment for straw purchasers of firearms.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 4939

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthSponsoring Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to increase penalties for purchasing firearms for prohibited persons:

“Most of the gun-related crime is committed by someone who should not have access to a firearm, but they are able to get it because someone else makes the purchase. Local law enforcement have said this is one of their top priorities. This was the case with Omaha Police Officer Kerrie Orozco who was killed in the line of duty and the gun used was obtained through a straw purchase. The purchaser walked away with a slap on the wrist. By closing loopholes and increasing maximum punishments for violators, this legislation will help to deter criminals from illegally obtaining firearms and bring justice and safety to our affected communities.”

Original cosponsor Rep. Gil Cisernos (D-CA) adds

“We must do more to end the epidemic of gun violence in our country and get illegal firearms off the streets and out of our communities. Data shows that straw purchases account for a high volume of trafficked guns and that gun dealers are often willing to sell guns to people who are asking to purchase guns on behalf of someone else. I’m proud to join Congressman Bacon in this common-sense legislation that supports our law enforcement and keeps guns out of the hands of those who should not have access to a firearm.”

This legislation has two bipartisan cosponsors (one from each party) in the 116th Congress. Last Congress, it had one cosponsor, Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-CA), and didn’t receive a committee vote.


Of NoteStraw purchasing — gun purchases in which the purchaser is actually buying a gun on a prohibited purchaser’s behalf instead of for themselves — is the most common channel identified in gun trafficking investigations. According to a national survey of firearm licensees, there are over 30,000 attempted straw purchases each year, and more than two-thirds (66%) of gun dealers experienced at least one attempted straw purchase in the year before the survey. In another investigation, researchers found that one in five (20%) of gun dealers were willing to sell guns to people explicitly asking to buy firearms for others.

Jonathan Lowy, vice president of litigation at the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, says “about 90% of gun dealers sell zero weapons that are traced to crimes in a given year,” while “about 5% of gun dealers selling [to] virtually the entire criminal market.”

Currently, Title 18 of the U.S. Code makes straw purchases a federal offense because straw purchasers make false statements to federally licensed firearms dealers on behalf of purchasers who are prohibited from buying firearms. People prohibited from buying firearms include: convicted felons, those convicted of domestic violence, juveniles, the mentally ill, those who have been dishonorably discharged from the military, and unlawful users of controlled substances.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / AndreyPopov)

AKA

STOP Straw Purchases Act

Official Title

To amend title 18, United States Code, to combat straw purchases of firearms.

    Yes, if it’s actually a deterrent...but if it’s not enforced, then it’s a moot point. How about establishing minimum guidelines that judges have to follow too?
    Like (20)
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    Share
    If the current fines go as high as $250,000 and 10 years imprisonment, I have a hard time understanding the need for this legislation. If sentencing guidelines need adjustment, I believe this can handled without legislation. I feel this is one of those ‘look, I did something good!’ packages for election year creds- when, in fact it does nothing. I wish congress would take action to stop this time wasting practice.
    Like (75)
    Follow
    Share
    The fines and penalties are high enough. What is lacking is the enforcement, background checks and the willingness to go against the NRA because of the money. Completely tired of representatives whoring themselves out for campaign contributions. Things have to change, we have to get back to the point were right is right.
    Like (23)
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    We don’t need another law to mimic one that already exists. We need enforcement of the current law!
    Like (19)
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    Doesn’t matter how severe the penalty is if they’re not enforced.
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    Why do we have this redundant regulations? Straw purchases of firearms are already illegal at the federal level and have strong penalties (a fine of up to $250,000 and up to 10 years imprisonment). What benefit is there to further raise the punishment for this crime. Instead, Congress should crack down on gun sellers with a track record of selling guns that are later tied to crimes.
    Like (13)
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    If the current fines go as high as $250,000 and 10 years imprisonment, I have a hard time understanding the need for this legislation. If sentencing guidelines need adjustment, I believe this can handled without legislation. I feel this is one of those ‘look, I did something good!’ packages for election year creds- when, in fact is does nothing. I wish congress would take action to stop this time wasting practice.
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    Fine and imprisonment are already sufficiently high as a deterrent by most American standards. Apply the effort and weight to cracking down on the sellers and rings above seller. It’s the same question as illicit drugs (I’m not classifying marijuana in this group) - do you hit the individual user, the street seller, the distributor or the producer?
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    I am only going to say “nay” for one reason. Until you pass mandatory background checks on every gun purchase, including gun shows. Where not all dealers have an FFL, any felon can purchase a gun for him or herself. It does not say you are a felon on the drivers license. So all they have to do when asked is lie. Now most of the people at gun shows keep no records ie, serial numbers, makes, model. Because they don’t have an FFL and most are avoiding paying any sales taxes if they take cash. For now I say nay. Until you pass real legislation that will keep guns out of felons hands. And honestly any FFL dealer doesn’t mind doing a background check for someone who doesn’t have an FFL at these shows. They just charge a $15-$25 fee and extend that to the purchaser. You could still have gun shows but all unlicensed dealers would have to get FFL dealers at the show to run the background checks for them. None of this is asking too much.
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    No, officer Orozco died because her killer was a violent gang member with repeat offenses who was allowed to walk free. We need to properly enforce the law against violent offenders, not punish single moms who are pressured into buying a gun for their abusive boyfriend. This bill will do nothing to stop crime.
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    Certainly! There’s no excuse for a mass shooting a week. Stop letting gun manufacturers set public policy!
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    Yes.
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    Is it okay for a sitting president to bribe a foreign government into investigating a political rival for personal gain, in return for aid already approved by Congress.? Our founding fathers didn’t think so and planned for it. Sondland was on a “Domestic Political Errand.” Was there a quid pro quo? Sondland, “Yes”. “Everyone was in the loop”. David Holmes, testified that Ukrainian officials “came to understand what was required” in order to get military assistance and a meeting with trump. Issued pardons for two soldiers being tried for war crimes and returned rank to a soldier who took a selfie with a dead body. U.S. ambassador to Ukraine felt threatened by trumps remarks and was threatened by trump while testifying. Long time friend and confidant of trump Roger Stone, found guilty of lying and witness tampering. trump has asked the Supreme Court to keep his taxes hidden, so no more separation of powers anymore either? trump sought status of Ukraine investigations showing aid was depended on the investigations themselves. trump complains that witnesses all speak from 2nd and 3rd hand knowledge yet ordered Mulvaney not to testify. Laura Cooper testified that the Pentagon sought clarification from the trump administration about the hold up of the Ukraine aide and received none. A second person has said they reported sexual misconduct involving a former doctor who’s been accused of sexually abusing nearly 300 men over a 17-year period to Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his staff felt they would not get the millions of dollars in aid money without publicly committing to launch the investigations Trump wanted. Senior trump administration officials considered resigning en masse in a ‘midnight self massacre’. State Department official says Giuliani was engaged in a campaign ‘full of lies and incorrect information’ about former ambassador. trump to pay $2 million for charity foundation misuse. trump wanted attorney general Barr to hold a news conference saying the president broke no laws on Ukraine call. White House official who heard trumps call with Ukraine president was told to keep quite. White House lawyer moved transcript of trump call to classified server after Ukraine adviser raised alarms. He has politicized our national security and has chosen Putin and other dictators over our own congress and security agencies. “I stated to Amb. Sondland that his statements were inappropriate, that the request to investigate Biden and his son had nothing to do with national security, and that such investigations were not something the NSC was going to get involved in or push,” Vindman adds. Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, a top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council is testifying that trump demanded that a foreign government investigate an American citizen in exchange for Congresses approved aide. Just reached a $984 billion deficit while he lines his pockets with our tax dollars and foreign money at his resorts. $400 million in aide money was withheld from Ukraine back in August and Ukrainian leaders were told it was not red tape, that they needed to talk to Chief of Staff Mulvaney to resolve it and make a CNN statement about Biden in order to receive said aide. Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, is running a shadow foreign policy in Ukraine that circumvents U.S. officials and career diplomats in order to personally benefit President trump. Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas. Look them up. North Korea just tested a submarine launched missile. Deserted our Kurdish allies who have been fighting ISIS with us and now are being slaughtered. All because he has a tower in Istanbul. “The Americans betrayed us. We do not trust them anymore,” she added. These used to be our Kurdish allies that stood against ISIS. He is refusing to comply with the law. He is using the power of the presidency to withhold aide to one of the worst humanitarian crisis on the planet in exchange for political favors in order to sway the 20/20 election. He is acting like a criminal and threatening the life of the whistleblower. Mr. America first is sending troops to Saudi Arabia in support of a murdering dictator who spends millions at his hotels and resorts. Corey Lewandowski testified to congress that trump ordered him to obstruct justice. He is blocking information that pertains to the safety of our country from reaching congress. He has been threatening NOAA, a federal agency, with punishment if they do not disavow the truth and side with his lies. He invited the Taliban to Camp David the week of 9/11. He is a #PussyAssBitch He’s doctoring weather maps to try and prove he’s not an idiot. He has stayed at trump properties 293 days in 3 years, that’s our tax dollars going directly into his pocket. He took money from military daycares to pay for a wall that won’t work and no one wants. The Vice President and the Attorney General are both spending tax payer dollars on trump hotels, lining his pockets and currying his favor. He has privately instructed aides to skirt laws and regulations to get the wall built faster — and told them he will pardon them if necessary. He is pressuring a government agency to give a contract for his wall to a company whose chief executive is a donor to one of his top GOP allies in Congress. He took hundreds of millions from 127 different projects (FEMA being one of those) for his wall. He thinks nuking a hurricane is an idea. He is host the next G-7 at one of his own resorts. Again our tax dollars paying him directly. He taunted Iran by tweeting a classified image of an Iranian rocket that had exploded, thereby potentially compromising U.S. intelligence capabilities. His own company would save millions from the low interest rates he is demanding. He was going to give you tax cuts through your paychecks but decided not to. This year the richest of us payed less in taxes than the rest of us. He is destroying the economy with HIS trade war. We will soon average a 1.2 trillion deficit. He is repeating NRA talking points on background checks so expect no action taken regardless of the fact there has been 27 arrested over threats to commit mass attacks since El Paso( NOT TOLEDO). He made fun of republicans being afraid of the NRA and then caved after a 30 minute phone conversation with them. He bragged about indefinite child detention because it brings families together. He is refusing flue shots, that protect us all(google influenza pandemic), to immigrant children. He is attacking fellow congresswomen in really disgusting ways and making anti-Semitic remarks about Jews calling them disloyal. He thinks he’s the chosen one based on a conspiracy theory web sight. He has: Obstructed Justice. Is profiting from the Presidency. Colluded - They had a meeting & lied about it. Advocated political & police violence. Abuse of power. Engaging in reckless behavior. Persecuting political opponents. Attacking the free press. Violating immigrants Right to Due Process. Violating campaign finance laws. Racist: Speaks directly to and often tweeting straight from white supremacists. Calls them very fine people. Told fellow congresswomen to go back where they came from. Called them shit hole countries. Called them murderers and rapists. Calls her Pocahontas. Took out full page adds calling for the death of five innocent black kids in New York, 1989. Literally has said in an interview he has Hitlers speeches, My New Order in his nightstand. Our Money: Spent campaign finance money on hush payments to silence a porn star he had an affair with in order to hide it from the voters. Has spent over $100 million of our tax dollars playing golf at his own golf courses. Has never divested from companies and advertises and profits off the White House. Was going to cut Medicaid and Medicare funding to pay for the tax cuts he gave to the rich. Is actively destroying farmers lives with his trade wars that we all know only hurts our pockets not Chinas. Has made the lives of every truck driver across America as well as our own, more dangerous by removing safety regulations that only benefits the pockets of the CEOs of those companies. Has removed any and all protections we had in place from work safety, environment, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights and gives that power back to the CEOs, oil companies, men and old white men. Saudi funded lobbyist rented 500 rooms at a trump hotel he never divested from right after he became president. Wonder why? Sexual Predator: Accused by more than 20 women of molestation and rape. Bragged about said molestation on tape. Has cheated on all three wives (see above). Has made sexual remarks on camera about his daughter. Belittles and bully’s women. Not even sure he’s aware he has two daughters. Idiot: Has allowed North Korea to grow there nuclear weapons program. Took the side of Putin over America’s own security agencies on the national stage. Lacks the intelligence and facts needed to communicate on a global level much less national one. Makes policy decisions based on FOX media. Lies when speaks. Doesn’t believe in science and quite often displays his ignorance of it. Russia: Lied about meetings with Russians. Lied about a trump tower Moscow. Personal attorney Michael Cohen (same guy who broke campaign finance laws under trumps direction) had contacts with russian officials. National Security aide Flynn resigned over Russian contacts. Jeff Sessions recused himself because of Russian contacts. Manafort resigned because of Russian contacts. Campaign foreign policy adviser Papadopoulos met with Russians then bragged about it to Australians who then turned that info over to our FBI. Sixteen campaign officials had contacts with Russia and at least nine others new about it. Russian mobster lived in trump tower. trump casino was flagged 106 times for lax money laundering standards and same Russian frequently stayed at trump casino. Has been selling real estate to Russians for years. It really is surprising how many connections to Russians this man has. Rick Scott, Marco Rubio, Bill Posey You are my representatives. OLC policy: The indictment or criminal prosecution of a crime sitting President would unconstitutionally undermine the capacity of the executive branch to perform its constitutionally assigned functions. It’s time to do your job. You swore an oath to this country, it’s people and me to uphold the constitution. The president has never upheld that oath. How do you want to be remembered?
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    The current law equates to the same amount of time some people do for murder. This law is fine.
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    Yeah right. The feds don’t prosecute these crimes to begin with, what would be the point of increasing the penalties when they don’t bother with it now. According to the feds only less then 18% of all gun related crimes are ever prosecuted. Like, what happened to the other 82% dude. I’d be happy if they got off their ass now.
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    No increase
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    This is not enough. This bill tickles the edges of a great republican sickness for firearms, and does little to solve the problem except make the republican who wrote the bill feel sanctimonious. No, this is too little too late.
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    I think 10yrs in prison and fined up to $250,000 is a pretty stiff penalty. I also don’t believe this is a big source of guns being supplied for illegal markets so without statistical data to support this I don’t think increasing the penalty will stop anything. We just need to enforce the law as it is then anyone caught will be off the street for 10yrs and unable to purchase a firearm when he gets out so no repeat offenders.
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    Is this a way for ya’all to pay for the new socialism running rampant in Washington, DC? Try focusing on addictions and mental health and homelessness.
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    Fine and penalty increases are useless if not enforced. Enforce the laws already on the books and stop with these toothless changes. Sometimes I think you politicians want more crime in order to crate more laws!
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