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Friday, October 22, 2021

The loophole of all gun loopholes

headshot_taPrevent gun violence by closing loophole that allows indirect gun purchases

My dad’s a lawyer, so I’ve grown up hating loopholes. Whether it be a sneakily thrown in one-liner about a custody agreement or working at a job that pays less to avoid spousal payments, loopholes have always irked me. So it’s no surprise that straw purchases — when one person poses as a buyer of a gun meant for someone else — drive me up the wall.

A straw purchase happens when a buyer of a firearm uses a secondary source to fill out the paperwork required to purchase from a federally-licensed firearms dealer. A straw purchaser is usually used when the actual buyer is prohibited from possessing a firearm due to a past criminal record or being underage. Although the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) specifically asks firearm applicants if they’re buying for another individual, a straw purchaser will simply lie and break the law when they answer “no” to this question.

There are a lot of nuances accompanying the motivations of these straw purchasers. Most of them are uneducated about guns and the impact they have on illegal gun trafficking in society. In an ATF article written by Special Agent Mark Kraft, he states that straw purchasers usually know nothing about the weapons they claim to have bought. Often times, straw purchasers are the victimized girlfriends of traffickers, women who are so domestically abused and manipulated by their significant other that they feel that they have no option but to do what he says and buy the guns, regardless of legality.

Outreach programs such as Family Tree, which provides professional education and training on how to recognize domestic violence and support those that experience abuse, can help solve one part of the straw purchasing problem. By providing women a safe escape from abusive significant others and traffickers, we as a society can help remove the pawns that criminal traffickers use to obtain guns.

Drugs also play a role in straw purchasers’ motivation to engage in (even more) criminal activity. In exchange for drugs, these individuals will buy guns that the trafficker desires: no questions asked. As long as they get their next high, they don’t care where the guns they purchase go or whose life they could potentially take.

“Where there’s dope, there’s drugs,” said one Florida straw purchaser. His words underscore the need to implement stricter and more inclusive national and statewide drug rehabilitation programs in order to take on the problem of gun violence.

There are so many different factors affecting gun violence and the things we, as a whole society and as an individual, can do about it. However, one of these is spreading awareness to issues such as domestic violence and drug addiction in order to stop the chain reaction that straw purchasers with these backgrounds can set off.

 

Written by: Tamanna Ahluwalia — tahluwalia@ucdavis.edu

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by individual columnists belong to the columnists alone and do not necessarily indicate the views and opinions held by The California Aggie.

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