Alabama now a source state for illegally purchased guns

Published: May. 27, 2022 at 9:51 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Alabama law officials are cracking down on guns purchased illegally.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Alabama tells WBRC that they’ve prosecuted more 30 cases of straw purchasing just this year. Straw purchasing is where someone legally buys a gun and then gives it to someone else who isn’t legally allowed to have it. But, straw purchasing in Alabama is contributing to gun crime locally and across the country.

On May 24, 2022, The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Alabama sentenced one of six defendants in straw purchasing cases. Officials said these illegally purchased guns from Alabama are contributing to gun and violent crimes here and nationwide.

“They’ll go into a gun shop and they’ll purchase it with the intent to hand it off to another individual,” U.S. Attorney’s for the Northern District of Alabama Prim Escalona said. “That is because it is relatively easy and cheap to purchase a gun in Alabama.”

Escalona said Alabama is a source state for straw purchasing.

“Guns that are purchased in Alabama are sent up the east coast and crimes are committed as far as New York, Massachusetts, in Chicago with guns that are purchased here. We know there was a murder in Massachusetts with a gun that was purchased in Alabama with the intent to send it up the Eastern coast.”

Escalona said they have found hundreds of Alabama straw purchased guns involved in crimes in other states and here at home. In 2020, they found 150 Alabama guns in New York, 124 in Illinois, 73 in Michigan, and 46 in New Jersey. They also found 36 in Massachusetts and 33 in DC.

“Often people think it’s not that big of a deal to go purchase a gun for someone but it is,” Escalona said. “It’s a federal crime, it’s a felony, and we will prosecute it. They carry a sentence of up to 10 years, but we are seeing sentencing around 15 to 18 months sentencing.”

She said it can be a hard crime to catch, but they work with ATF to track movement, like where a gun was purchased and where it ended up.

“We do have situations where it is one person going in and doing it,” Escalona said. “But, what we see more is that it becomes a business and a network where people are coming together, purchasing those guns, and and selling them out of state and locally. The more illegal guns we take off the streets, the more we except violent crime to decrease.”

The U.S. Attorney’s office said they know many people who have participated in a straw purchase are unaware of the serious federal consequences. They suggest if you have purchased a gun and handed it off, report it to your local police department. They said it’s better they know now incase the gun ends up in a crime.

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