“any person in connection with the acquisition or attempted acquisition of any firearm or ammunition from a licensed importer, manufacturer, dealer, or collector to knowingly make any false or fictitious oral or written statement, or to furnish any false or misrepresented identification intended to deceive such importer, manufacturer, dealer, or collector with respect to the lawfulness of the sale or other disposition of such firearm or ammunition”. (18 U.S.C. § 922(a)(6)).
Requirements for Conviction
If a person is accused of making false statements in an attempt to acquire a firearm, there are several requirements for conviction. For the jury to convict, they must be convinced that the government has proven each of these things beyond a reasonable doubt:
- that the defendant knowingly made a false statement as charged in the Indictment;
- that at the time they made the statement, the defendant was trying to buy firearm/ammunition from a licensed dealer, importer, manufacturer or collector; and
- that the statement was intended to, or likely to, deceive the licensed dealer/licensed importer/licensed manufacturer/licensed collector about a fact material to the lawfulness of the sale.
The government does not have to prove that the defendant knew that their conduct was illegal.
Any individual who violates this section will be fined under this title for up to $250,000 or imprisoned for up to 10 years, or both.
Further Facts & Considerations
One might think that the steep penalties associated with this crime would discourage a person from attempting the risk. However, a surprising number of people do so anyway. In 2017, a report from the federal Government Accountability Office stated that 112,000 people attempted to purchase guns from licensed dealers, but were caught giving false information on the application form.
Many ineligible individuals were then blocked from acquiring guns – however, not many of them were actually prosecuted. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives referred just 12,700 cases to field offices for investigation. Of those thousands of cases, the Justice Department prosecuted exactly 12 — one of every 9,333 people accused of making false statements in order to acquire a gun.