Florida Department of Law Enforcement records show that statewide, there were 3,479 arrests of felons who illegally possessed guns or ammunition from Jan. 1 to Dec. 1 of 2012, obtaining the weapons despite serious criminal records. Florida firearms laws unequivocally aim to prevent gun ownership by convicted felons. However, that prohibition is faltering.
Many times, people see those who own guns as people predisposed to criminal activity, and furthermore, that the current gun laws should be severely restrictive to halt those predisposed to criminal activity from having access to these weapons. However, the focus should be turned on what is the actual cause of the problem: straw-man purchases.
A straw purchase or nominee purchase is any purchase wherein someone obtains a good or service for someone who is unable or unwilling to purchase the good or service himself. Straw purchases are legal except in cases where the ultimate receiver of goods or services uses those goods or services in the commission of a crime with the prior knowledge of the straw purchaser; in these cases, gun crimes.
Generally straw purchasers are utilized for guns because the intended buyer is not eligible to conduct a transaction because they belong to a legally prohibited category, such as being a felon, being addicted to a controlled substance, or being underage. Straw purchases of used guns are not illegal, unless the gun is used in a crime with the prior knowledge of the straw purchaser.
In the wake of many recent violent gun-related crimes around the Nation, particularly Florida, the concern has shifted to keeping guns particularly out of the hands of felons who are also prohibited from conducting a firearms transaction. Felons will sometimes attempt to obtain guns through a straw man, because they themselves would not pass the National Instant Criminal Background Check (NICS) and could not truthfully fill out the Firearms Transaction Record Form 4473.
Form 4473 must be filled out when a person purchases a firearm from a Federal Firearm License holder (such as a gun store). Form 4473 contains the purchaser’s name, address, date of birth, government-issued photo ID, NICS transaction number, make/model/serial number of the firearm, and a short federal affidavit stating that the purchaser is eligible to purchase firearms under federal law.
Lying on Form 4473 is a felony, exposing the accused to up to five years in prison in addition to expensive fines, even if the transaction is simply denied by the NICS. However, straw purchases many times slip through undetected until a violent crime occurs involving the weapon. A proverbial target is painted on one’s back the minute by the legal system when one makes the illegal straw-purchase and will become even larger when a crime is committed with the weapon, leading many to believe they can leave town to evade the police. This action may seem beneficial in the beginning; eventually though, the police will find one and bring one back in the legal system, with a series of possible consequences that will be much harsher because one evaded the law.
Fortunately, one does have an option for relief when one does know about an outstanding warrant on them. As soon as one becomes aware of such warrant, one should contact an experienced attorney who can work with the Judge to recall the warrant in exchange for appearance for court. Many times, when one’s case is pled to a Judge who sees a remorseful accused party, one’s punishment often times is extremely small or nonexistent.
Many times throughout Jacksonville, accused parties face charges they never knew of and warrants they never thought would be out on them, and because of their lack of knowledge, they suffer at the hands of a powerful legal system. Fortunately, if one obtains an experienced Jacksonville gun crimes defense attorney to fight the case and ensure one’s rights are protected, one can be sure that one will not be a victim in a fight one cannot win on one’s own.
The Forbess Law Firm has been aiding clients who face criminal charges in Jacksonville for years and are here to provide aggressive criminal defense to anyone accused of a crime. If you or a loved one require a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, contact our firm today. We are available through our website or by calling us at 904-634-0900.
Additional Source: Gaps in gun laws a boon for felons in Florida, experts sayPeter Jamison, Tampa Bay Times