What’s a “straw purchase”? | Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence

What’s a “straw purchase”?

When a person buys a gun on someone else’s behalf, it is a straw purchase. People that cannot pass a Brady background check or want to avoid a paper trail—particularly gun traffickers and other criminals— use straw purchasing to obtain guns illegally. Many of these guns end up on the streets, where each and every day 1,300 Americans are the victims of gun crimes.

Just 5% of all gun dealers are responsible for 90% of crime guns on our streets. “Bad apple” gun dealers like these supply guns to criminals by selling guns to straw purchasers (people illegally buying guns for others), gun traffickers (people buying guns to illegally resell), and other dangerous people.

A straw purchase of a gun is illegal, punishable by a $250,000 fine and up to 10 years in prison. In June 2000, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) reported that nearly half of gun trafficking investigations were related to straw purchases. Yet gun dealers connected to straw purchases are rarely prosecuted.

Now Brady is launching a national Stop Bad Apple Gun Dealers campaign that includes filing new lawsuits to hold irresponsible gun dealers accountable, organizing public protests at “bad apple” gun dealers across the country and demanding that all gun dealers agree to follow a Code of Conduct. Join Brady by signing the petition to Stop Bad Apple Gun Dealers and stop the flow of crime guns to our streets.

Download the factsheet