With so much attention being focused on guns given the surge in mass shootings and crimes of violence, it should come as no shock that the ATF is stepping up its enforcement of law pertaining to firearms. In particular, Arizona federal courts have seen a rise in the number of cases brought for possession of illegal weapons and devices (such as unregistered automatic weapons and silencers) and also cases that involve straw buying.
What is the ATF Form 4473?
When someone buys a firearm, they are required to complete ATF Form 4473. This form, among other things, requires that the purchases attests under penalty of perjury that they are the true owner of the weapon to be purchased and they are not purchasing it merely for the purpose of transferring it to another party. Often times, criminal enterprises pay ‘straw buyers’ to purchase guns on their behalf, in order to conceal their identity as the true purchases; likely because they cannot purchase weapons themselves due to having prior felony convictions or because of a lack of legal status in the United States.
Can firearm hobbyists be charged for selling too many guns?
Extensive licensure is required in order to be able to legally sell guns. Every FFL (federal firearms licensee) goes through rigorous background checks and is required to adhere to numerous laws and procedures when selling firearms. Private individuals frequently buy and sell guns as a hobby or as part of a collection. But if enough guns are sold, this could subject the individual to federal criminal charges for dealing in firearms without a license. ATF investigations frequently uncover the sale of a large number of guns by a private party in order to create an inference that the individual is more than just a hobbyist or collector and that they are actually in the business of selling firearms.
And while even a careful or responsible collector may keep records pertaining to the identity of purchasers of firearms, this can actually work against them. By keeping detailed records – just like an FFL would – ATF agents and federal prosecutors frequently argue that despite the best of intentions, if you act a gun dealer you are a gun dealer (if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it’s a duck).
Being charged with a firearms offense in federal court is no ducky matter, though. Under the federal sentencing guidelines, already harsh sentences can be increased based upon factors such as the number of guns involved, whether the gun can hold a high-capacity magazine, the obliteration or destruction of a gun’s serials numbers. If approached by an ATF agent who wants to “just talk to you” about an investigation involving weapons, you would be well advised to decline to speak with them until and unless you have consulted with Phoenix criminal defense attorney who is knowledgeable in federal weapons cases and charges.
Contact Phoenix Criminal Defense Attorney!
If you have been contacted by the ATF or if you or someone you know is being charged with a federal weapons offense in Arizona, contact us to set up a confidential consultation. We can evaluate the situation and come up with the best strategy to protect both your rights and your freedom. Consultations can be scheduled by calling (602) 663-9100. We conduct consultations both in person and via Zoom, upon request. Providing us with a copy of your indictment or other court paperwork prior to the consultation will allow us to get a head start in evaluating your situation so that we can give you the best advice and representation possible.