What are the penalties for a federal gun trafficking crime?: Federal Attorneys talk Gun Running, Straw Purchases, Ghost Show Loopholes & All Federal Penalties

Guns are pictured resting on a cameo background, there are hand guns and assault rifles and a knife to display what illegal federal gun trafficking might look likeWhat is Gun Running (gun trafficking)?

Gun running, or federal gun trafficking, is an illegal business of trade with supplies such as firearms and ammunition. 

It is a federal crime with penalties of fines, mandatory federal prison sentencing, and restrictions on future gun possession. Commonly, for a federal gun running crime, guns are transported across state borders. 

The biggest concern is when “states with weak gun laws often serve as suppliers of crime guns in states with stronger gun laws and within their own states” (Everytown, 2021).


Methods of Obtaining Illegal Guns

A common misconception is that most illegal guns are stolen. Most illegal guns, however, are actually obtained through straw purchases. 

Other sources include retail businesses (gun shop, pawn shop, flea market, & gun show), from individual family or friends, underground markets (criminal enterprises), theft, and other sources. 

The second largest source of illegal firearms originates from legally licensed and corrupt gun dealers. These methods are against state and federal laws. However, there is a way to avoid background checks in a legal manner. Depending upon the state, gun show loopholes are legal. 

The most prominent source of illegal gun sales stem from straw purchases. 


What are Straw Purchases when it comes to guns?

A comic shows a US judge asking a scare crow Straw purchases occur when a person buys a gun for another person. This could include someone who is able to buy a gun legally purchasing it on behalf of another person who is not legally allowed to purchase a firearm. 

This may be a result of several factors, such as the individual being a minor or having a record of a criminal offense. In the state of Florida, for example, you cannot own a gun if you’ve previously been convicted of a felony or certain other crimes.

An example of a straw purchase could be two people entering a gun store. One individual tells the person making the purchase which gun to buy, and then the second person submits identification and payment for the suggested gun. 

This can be of concern for gun dealers, as most violent crime is committed by young adults and teens. Straw purchases are illegal and gun sellers can be held accountable for straw sales of guns.


Gun Show Loopholes people use to aquire guns and avoid background checks

Gun show loopholes is the idea that generally licensed gun dealers are required by state and federal law to conduct background checks. Yet, private gun dealers do not have to ask for identification. 

Most gun shows will have licensed gun dealers,  but there are still private gun dealers who will appear and sell their own collection at gun shows which means that they can sell them without running a background check. 

Whether or not background checks are required depends on the state - for example: Connecticut, Colorado, and Oregon each require background checks for every gun purchase. 

Since states that have required all background checks have not proven to serve as a deterrent to gun trafficking crimes, lawmakers are unsure whether to pass a federal mandate on background checks or not. 

On the other hand, we also do know that citizens from other states do travel to distant gun shows in other states to make private purchases in which they won’t have to be subject to a background check. 


What if you are found with an unlicensed gun or “ghost gun” ?

If you are found with an unlicensed gun, it is considered a third-degree felony. All guns must be permitted. 

Possession by a minor can result in a charge as an adult, but counseling and rehabilitation will be offered. On the other hand, gun possession by a felon can lead to harsher convictions with at least a 15 year prison sentence and fines.


What if a juvenile is found with an unlicensed gun?

Incarceration will be less strict with the possibility of jail time, and the court ordering will seek to help the juvenile.

Oftentimes, gun crime sentences for juveniles possessing guns may include community service requirements, possible juvenile detention sentences, and even warnings.

If a minor possesses an illegal gun with the intent to cause mass harm to others, however, he or she can be charged as an adult. For example, if a minor brings a weapon to a school, they will be charged as an adult. We unfortunately know this situation all too well in the South Florida.


Federal Penalties for Gun Trafficking crimes

  • Lower-end Sentencing possibilities for Federal gun crimes
    • 5 Years in federal prison – Possible for using or possessing a gun in furtherance of a federal crime. Up to a $5,000 fine.
    • 7 Years  in federal prism – Displaying a gun to further a violent crime or a drug trafficking crime.
    • 10 Years – Owning a semiautomatic assault weapon, or short-barreled rifle or shotgun to further a violent crime or drug trafficking. 
  • Higher-end Sentencing possibilities for Federal gun crimes
    • 15 Years in federal prison  – Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
    • 20 Years in federal prison  – Discharging a firearm during the furtherance of a violent crime.
    • 25 Years in federal prison  – When a person is injured or killed in another federal crime relating to use of a weapon.
    • 30 Years in federal prison  – In furtherance of violent crime or drug trafficking, there is possession of a machine gun, silencer/muffler, or destructive device.
    • Life Sentence in federal prison – A second offense, with the involvement of destructive devices, silencers/mufflers, or machine guns.

What can be done if I’m facing a Federal Gun Crime or a Federal Gun Trafficking Allegation?

If you are charged with gun trafficking, it is best to speak with a federal defense attorney that specializes with federal criminal laws. 


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