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The Definition of a Straw Texan


I've been using the term "straw buyer" and "straw Texan" a lot in the CNN story.  I figured I had better explain them.  I don't think either is actually a legal term, but rather a colloquial expression derived from an older time when scarecrows saw regular use.  What's a scarecrow?  Simply a man made of straw.

When you're buying a gun from a dealer, you have to be buying it for yourself.  That's because the 4473 asks if you are buying for yourself, and it is a felony to fill it out falsely.  If you lie, and work with someone else to buy a gun (someone who, for example, cannot pass the background check), then you have become a straw purchaser: a "fake" man in order to fool the background check, like a scarecrow fools crows.  The term can apply even when there is only one person involved; if you falsify the 4473 with someone else's information and provide the dealer a false ID that matches it, there's still a straw man buying the gun.

If you are not going through a dealer, and thus are not filling out a 4473, then there's no straw purchase problem.  However, you can still be a straw purchaser if you are acting the same role of fake buyer.  It's just that, in that scenario, there's no penalty for doing so.

In the CNN situation, there is a private sale either to Griffin, or to some mystery person.  There's no 4473, so the laws against a straw purchase don't apply.  But the only reason Griffin would use a third party to buy the gun would be for that third party to pass himself off as the buyer to the seller.  If the seller knows the law, he won't sell to Griffin, who is not a Texas resident.

(Why not?  You can sell a long gun to another resident of your own state in a private sale, but not to someone who resides in another state). 

And that's how we get from a straw buyer, generic, to a straw Texan.  It's only legal as a private sale in this scenario if the scarecrow is Texan.  I wrote it once and it sounded good, so I kept using it.  The scarecrow must be Texan.


This entry was published 2005-09-24 10:43:35.0 by matthew@triggerfinger.org and last updated 2005-09-24 10:43:35.0. [Tweet]

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