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Straw Purchasing

The gun laws in California and the Federal statutes can be somewhat complicated. It’s essential to learn as much as you can about them so you don’t end up inadvertently breaking the law if you are or intend to be a gun owner. For example, it is illegal in most cases to sell or transfer a firearm in California unless you have a license to do so. Additionally, it is illegal to purchase a firearm for someone who is prohibited by law from possessing or buying one. Many people may not even know that these actions are against the law.

Who is Prohibited From Possessing a Firearm?

To fully understand the crime of straw purchasing, it’s necessary to know who is not permitted to possess a firearm. In the state of California, there are several groups of people who are prohibited from possessing or purchasing a firearm, including but not limited to the following:

  1. Any person who has been convicted of a felony in any state or any jurisdiction;
  2. Any individual who is addicted to narcotics; and
  3. Individuals convicted of certain misdemeanors, such as assault, domestic battery, and stalking.

These misdemeanors and some others carry a ten-year ban on the possession and purchase of a firearm in California.

What is Straw Purchasing?

When you purchase a firearm for someone who is prohibited from possessing or purchasing it themselves, this is illegal and is known as a straw purchase. The act of this purchase is in and of itself criminal. It is a federal crime. Furthermore, it’s also illegal and in violation of federal law to make a false statement about any material fact on an application to purchase a firearm. For example, if you fill out an application to buy a gun and say that you are the person who will ultimately possess the firearm, but you’re actually purchasing it for someone else, this omission or lie on the form is a crime.

Straw purchasing laws also make it illegal for a gun store or licensed gun dealer to sell a firearm to someone if they know the purchaser intends to give the weapon to someone else. Therefore, straw purchasing is not illegal only for the person who is purchasing the gun. The individual selling the firearm could be prosecuted as well if they were hiding the truth about what was going on. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, approximately 40 percent of criminals obtain their firearms from friends and family members, and another 40 percent obtain their guns in other illegal ways, so this is a crime that prosecutors take very seriously.

While straw purchasing is illegal under federal law, there are also state laws that prohibit aspects of straw purchasing. California state law also explicitly prohibits the sale or transfer of a firearm unless the person selling the firearm is a licensed dealer. In some cases, individuals violating this state law can be charged with a felony.


Straw purchasing is a serious crime that carries severe penalties. Under federal law, if you are convicted of straw purchasing, you could be sentenced to up to ten years in jail and fined up to $250,000.

Attorney William S. Kroger is Here to Help

All types of gun charges are serious. There are very real and severe issues with gun violence throughout the United States, including California. While it’s acceptable to purchase firearms when you obtain them legally, if you lie on the application or sell or transfer the gun to someone else, you could find yourself in serious trouble. This is true even if the person you give the firearm to is permitted to possess or purchase it themselves. If you were arrested for straw purchasing or any other gun crime, Attorney William S. Kroger is here for you. He has been a criminal defense attorney for more than two decades. Additionally, he is admitted to practice in several federal jurisdictions. Attorney William S. Kroger will do whatever it takes to protect you and your rights. Don’t hesitate to reach out for a free, confidential consultation. Set up a meeting by calling 323-655-5700 or by messaging us today.

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