Is Buying a Gun for Someone Else in Massachusetts Illegal?

The answer to this question is, it depends on the circumstances. A secret purchase made by one person to obtain a firearm for someone who cannot own a weapon is illegal. This is known as a straw purchase. If the person for whom the gun is being purchased is not disclosed to the seller, the seller is not able to run a background check for the intended owner. As background checks are an important component of the purchasing process, the straw purchase is a big no-no. Guns are dangerous weapons, and trying to evade the rules of ownership can put you behind bars.

But What About Gifts?

Straw purchases are illegal, yes, but that doesn’t mean that it’s always illegal to buy a gun for another person. Let’s say I want to buy a gun for my husband, as a gift. I can do this…but I have to follow guidelines set forth by the law. In Massachusetts, residents are required to report any sale or transfer of a weapon within seven days of the sale or transfer. This applies to gifts as well. Yes, you can purchase a gun as a gift for another person. No, you cannot purchase a gun for someone that you know cannot legally own a gun. In fact, doing so is a federal felony. Even if you didn’t know, but should have known, you can be in hot water. If you’re not 100% confident that the intended recipient can legally own a gun, play it safe. You can always go to a gun retailer, purchase a gift certificate, and give that as the gift.

“On Behalf of Another”

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) warns against “acquiring the firearm(s) on behalf of another person.” If you do this, you are making the aforementioned (and illegal) straw purchase. However, if you are buying the gun as a gift, and making this fact known to the seller, you are not buying it on behalf of another, but rather for another. This is an important distinction. If you have been charged with any type of criminal offense, contact a Boston defense lawyer today.

Penalties and Punishment

If you illegally purchase a gun for another person, you can face up to 10 years in jail and up to $250,000 in fines. If you purchase a gun from a federally licensed dealer and fail to disclose the intended recipient, you may face felony charges. In a recent example, the Supreme Court ruled against a man who purchased a gun for his uncle in another state and didn’t disclose this information to the seller. Even though his uncle would have passed the background check, the man was convicted of making false statements. Failing to register the transfer of ownership of a gun can also have serious consequences, even if it doesn’t involve a new purchase. If you have been charged with any type of gun or weapons offense, contact a MA weapons defense attorney today.

Altman & Altman, LLP – Boston’s Top Criminal Defense Law Firm

If you have been charged with any type of criminal offense, the legal team at Altman & Altman, LLP can help. Our skilled defense attorneys have more than 50 years’ experience fighting for the rights of individuals charged with crimes. We will analyze the details of your case before determining a legal strategy, and will position you for the best possible outcome. It is our goal to keep you out of jail, and to keep your record clean. MA is tough on gun laws. If you’ve been charged with a weapons offense, we can help. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.


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