Inquirer Confused About Straw Purchasing

I don’t think the Inquirer gets how a straw purchase works, based on this article about a trafficker who was convicted in federal court for illegally selling a gun to a cop killer. They title it “‘Straw’ man convicted”:

Kudos to agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives who tracked the weapon. But the route of the gun into the hands of a killer proved all too common: Lashley, barred from owning a gun because of an earlier drug conviction, bought it from a man who purchased the gun legally in South Carolina. Lashley brought it to Philadelphia and, eventually, it came into Giddings’ possession.

This is one of those cases where I think reporters are legitimately confused. I forgive them for that. What I don’t forgive them for is editorializing based on their ignorance, and blaming the National Rifle Association for the state of affairs. But that aside, let us attempt to educate any reporters who may happen across this post.

First off, the title is wrong. The ‘Straw’ man was not convicted. Lashley was a gun trafficker and a felon-in-possession. He was not the straw man. Lashley, being prohibited under federal and state law from owning a firearm, and not being a resident of South Carolina, cannot buy a gun there, so he has to put up a straw man who can trick the dealer into making the sale, and pass the background check. The straw man in this case is Jason Mack, who is currently serving a 36-month sentence for his role in the straw purchase.

Straw purchasing is quite properly a felony, is a federal crime, and a state crime most places. There is nothing “legal,” to quote the Inquirer, about a straw purchase. Both parties, the person who puts the straw man up, and the straw man himself, are committing felonies. It is easy to prove this crime when authorities are properly motivated, as we see here, in the case of going after the person who’s illegal gun trafficking ended up contributing to another convicted felon killing a police officer. It is indeed good work on the part of federal authorities, but laws already exist for prosecuting this crime if we only take the crime seriously. Whining that the NRA is getting in the way of this, when the NRA has been consistent that we should actually enforce the laws on straw purchasing, is disingenuous. Here it might be based partly out of ignorance, but I think reporters and editorial boards should make some effort to understand the law before throwing accusations at others, and calling for more unneeded restrictions.

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