Indiana gun dealers and purchasers take note. In April, the City of Chicago filed a civil lawsuit against Westforth Sports, a gun store in Gary, Indiana, claiming that the store is one of the primary suppliers of illegal firearms to felons and others Chicago. The gun store is just 10 miles from the Chicago border.
The lawsuit, filed in conjunction with Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, claims that Westforth Sport’s has sold “hundreds, if not thousands” of guns to straw purchasers who then quickly resold the firearms to felons and others in Chicago. The suit alleges that 850 firearms recovered at Chicago crime scenes between 2009 and 2016 came from this store.
The City of Chicago further alleges that the 50-year old gun shop ignored several red flags indicating straw purchasing. According to the suit, the store saw activity such as buyers making multiple purchases of the same gun model, suspicious buying sprees over a short period, large-volume purchases, cash payments, and staggered visits to circumvent the multiple-sale reporting requirement.
The store’s owner allegedly ignored these red flags despite being trained to spot signs of gun trafficking and received repeated warnings from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives about suspect purchases.
The city asks for an unspecified amount of damages and a court order preventing the store from continuing practices that contribute to gun trafficking.
What is straw purchasing?
A straw purchase in gun sales occurs when an individual purchases a firearm for someone prohibited by law–such as a felon or a minor–from buying or owning one. When purchasing a gun from a Federal Firearm Licensed (FFL) dealer, you must attest that you are the actual buyer of the firearm and eligible to purchase it. If you are not the actual buyer, the dealer cannot transfer the firearm to you unless the gun is a bona fide gift.
If you attest that you are the actual buyer when you are not, you will be considered a straw purchaser and can be charged with making a false statement to the federal government. A straw purchase can bring a felony conviction punishable by up to 10 years in jail and a fine up to $250,000.
Several straw purchasers who bought firearms at Westforth Sports were brought up on federal charges, including a 24-year old who purchased 19 handguns over seven months in 2020 and resold all but one to buyers in Chicago.
Do you need to defend against straw purchase charges?
If you’ve been accused of making a straw purchase in Indiana, you must take the charge seriously. Dragging your feet on hiring a lawyer and building your defense increases the risk of you spending years in prison. Call the qualified criminal defense lawyers of Razumich & Associates without delay. We are ready to aggressively investigate the facts surrounding your case and fight for your rights.