Did “Under the Gun” Also Violate Federal Law?

Prison Fence

According to Ammoland, Stephanie Soechtig admitted in an interview with Lip TV that she sent a resident of Colorado to Arizona to buy firearms from a private seller. We had this issue come up before when Colin Goddard was working for Brady and was accused of the same thing. The crime is actually transporting the firearm back to your home state, not the purchase itself. The seller only commits a crime when the seller knows or has reasonable cause to believe does not reside in his home state. For instance, if the guy pulls up and has Colorado tags, that could amount to such reasonable cause.

Colin Goddard claimed the firearm he purchased out-of-state was disposed of in that state, in which case there was no crime committed. Remember that a lot of the crimes that revolve around deception in a sale only apply if you deceive a licensee. If you tell a non-licensee that you’re from Arizona when you’re really from Colorado, that’s is not a crime. Until the person involved in the sale transports the firearms back to his home state, there is no crime.

That said, if the producers of this show did have the firearm transported back to Colorado, absolutely a federal crime was committed, and they should be forced to answer what happened to the firearms in question. Ammoland is correct that in that instance, the producers can be reached on conspiracy charges if they were involved in the plot, even if they did not bring the firearms back to Colorado themselves. So did they?

22 thoughts on “Did “Under the Gun” Also Violate Federal Law?”

  1. There is some delicious irony to liberal anti-gunners discovering that the possession, acquisition, and general ownership of firearms is full of traps for the unwary. They are out there making our case for us!

  2. We saw how this played out when David Gregory held up an AR-15 magazine in Washington, DC, despite the district’s ban on such items.

  3. If the producer bought handguns privately across State lines he broke the law. All handgun transfers to non-residents must go through an FFL in the buyer’s home state unless it is for inheritance, a handgun that is C&R and the buyer holds an FFL03 or other similar exception.

    18 USC 922(a)(3) only applies to interstate purchases between non-residents for rifles and shotguns. Handguns must go through a dealer. There is no knowledge of the transferor or transferee required. The private transfer of handguns to non-residents is illegal by default.

    If the producer bought handguns, it doesn’t matter if he transported them or disposed of them inside the state. The purchase itself was illegal. 3 counts worth.

    1. A non-licensee may not sell any firearm someone who is not a resident of his state, provided the non-licensee knew or should have reasonably known the buyer was a non-resident. That’s a crime.

      For the non-licensee buyer, the crime occurs when he transports it back to his own state of residence. If it’s disposed of in the state it was purchased in, there’s no crime.

      1. This might be a good question for the the BATFE because the Gun Control Act specifies the knowledge of whether or not someone should have reasonably known is a non-resident applies to rifles and shotguns only. Handguns are not mentioned.

        Every search that comes up says that private sales of handguns are not allowed to non-residents regardless of intent to transport or whether or not you do. Everyone seems to agree you can’t sell a handgun to a non-resident regardless of whether or not they transport it out-of-state.

        27 CFR 478.30:

        No nonlicensee shall transfer, sell, trade, give, transport, or deliver any firearm to any other nonlicensee, who the transferor knows or has reasonable cause to believe does not reside in (or if the person is a corporation or other business entity, does not maintain a place of business in) the State in which the transferor resides: Provided, That the provisions of this section:

        We’re really hinging this on the “knows or has reasonable cause to believe” language. If someone presents no ID for a private sale and the seller shrugs and takes the cash without further inquiry as to the buyer’s residency, does that trigger “reasonable cause to believe” or is turning a blind eye or keeping silient sufficient to say “I didn’t know he/she didn’t live here!”?

        I wouldn’t want to be the test case on this. It is widely believed even if the law is open to interpretation that buying handguns interstate by non-residents cannot be done.

        As I said, this might be a good question for the BATFE to answer and add to their page on Unlicensed Persons: https://www.atf.gov/qa-category/unlicensed-persons

        I don’t think the intent of the non-licensee transfer requirements was not to apply to interstate private sales as long as the guns bought stayed in the state where they were purchased and allow the non-resident to build a private out-of-state stock of guns.

        I wonder how long anti-gun people would take before calling this the “interstate prepper arsenal loophole”?

        1. There is no distinction between handguns and long guns for non-licensees. That distinction only applies to FFLs, who may sell long guns to residents of other states provided the sale follows the laws of the buyer’s state.

          1. You are correct that 18USC922(a)(3) prohibits the transport back. However, 18USC922(a)(9) states:

            “[It shall be unlawfu] (9) for any person, other than a licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, licensed dealer, or licensed collector, who does not reside in any State to receive any firearms unless such receipt is for lawful sporting purposes.”

            1. But the person in question here resides in Colorado, which is a state. I think that means Americans living abroad can’t receive firearms.

              1. Yes, if I recall correctly there’s active litigation on this issue.

  4. John Rosenthal claimed to have done that in Mass at a New Hampshire gun show.

    In fact he just paid an off duty Jail guard to buy a revolver from an FFL and keep it at his place in New Hampshire.

    So easy they didn’t dare to do it.

  5. Splitting a lot of hairs here. I think that probably because they are leftists doing an anti-gun hit piece they will never be charged at all, regardless of the facts–they are “good people,” just like David Gregory.

    If anyone else did it, regardless of the facts, they would find a way to string them up in court and sentenced to a looong stretch in the pen as an example to the rest of us, with the only possible salvation being a good lawyer (expensive) and a sympathetic jury (which the process makes it difficult to get).

  6. It doesn’t matter if they transported machine guns across state lines. It doesn’t matter if they steal, lie, or kill. The media ALWAYS get away with anything they want to do, same with Leftist politicians. These laws are meant to apply to “the little people”, not these elites. They believe they stand above all laws.

  7. This whole debate is emblematic of an out of control government. The commenters here are probably in the top .1% of the population in terms of understanding gun law. Yet, they cannot agree as to what constitutes a crime in the area of interstate transfers of firearms. I can assure that the remaining 99.9% hasn’t a clue. Lots of people make entirely innocent transfers, usually among family members, without realizing they are violating the law. Law, especially regarding firearms has gotten so complex that the old concept of “ignorance of the law is no excuse” is patently unjust. Even the people charged with enforcing the law don’t understand it.

    1. That’s exactly the point. So that when you find yourself convicted, you (and everyone else) will give the system the benefit of the doubt rather than questioning it.

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