Talk:Straw purchase

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Geographical Bias[edit]

The article only deals with very narrowly defined cases in North America, and mostly the USA, while Straw purchasing has as many implications in the European continent, Asia, Russia, Africa and South America, among other places. (talk) 09:06, 29 September 2012 (UTC)

I've just added the {{worldwide}} tag for that reason. Si Trew (talk) 14:27, 20 January 2014 (UTC)

First of all that sentence does not make any sense: 'it has as many implications;' assuming you mean 'has many,' but sentence still lacks content and offers no discussion of the implications: explanations why or specific examples where treatment of SPs is broadly considered different across other continents.§


This article declares that buying a car for someone with poor credit is unscrupulous. Does this comply with Wikipedia's policy of neutrality?


Straw purchase is more than likely a contraction of "Straw Man" purchase. I guess I'd need some cites before fixing it.

The reason I named the article "straw purchase" is because that is the standard term used by the BAFTE. --"DICK" CHENEY 00:59, 18 May 2004 (UTC)


Can anyone clarify etymology of the term? I tried to dig the Internet, googled here and there, but all the same -- to no avail. -- 07:13, 18 September 2005 (UTC)

This entry tells me nothing. can anyone please clarify the term?


My impression is that the term derives from "straw man"–that the person making the purchase is a kind of "straw man" in the purchase in the sense that the person is simply a stand-in for the real purchaser. To make the image more vivid, imagine the real purchaser brings an actual straw man–a scarecrow–and sets it up at the counter, stands behind it, and plays the voice of the straw man, moving the straw man's arms at the right time to conduct the transaction. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:20, 23 December 2013 (UTC)


The article makes a false distinction that straw purchases require that they be done for someone who can not legally own a gun. According to Form 4471 and my understanding as an FFL, a straw purchase is any purchase done expressly on the behalf of someone else. It does not have to be done for someone who can't legally own a gun.

Before making the change, I want to make sure nobody objects.


Straw purchases were made illegal with the intent to prevent purchase by prohibited persons. This includes any purchase by a person ("straw man") not the actual buyer (whether actual buyer is a prohibited person or not) OR bad faith purchase as a "gift" especially for a known prohibited person. The good faith purchaser of a bona fide gift to another person is considered the actual buyer. The question mark is very appropriate--this subject is not clear and there were different rulings in different federal court districts. See writeup below which I copied from BATFE on this subject. Naaman Brown (talk) 20:13, 30 September 2009 (UTC)

At least one district court did overturn a conviction on a straw purchase because the "actual" buyer was not a prohibited person. Naaman Brown (talk) 20:24, 30 September 2009 (UTC)(Added: That was a matter of that court interpreting the intent of Congress from the debates and hearings. The letter of the law is that the sales record must reflect the name, address, D.O.B. of the actual buyer. Only in the case of a bona fide gift may the actual buyer be someone other than the recepient of the gun.)

Signs Section[edit]

The signs section should be deleted. First, it does not cite a single source, and qualifies as original research. More importantly, under WP:NOT, an official policy, it states that Wikipedia articles should not include instructions, advice (legal, medical, or otherwise) or suggestions, or contain "how-to"s I will delete this section if no one objects here. (Cyb3rdemon 21:41, 27 June 2007 (UTC))

The signs section has been updated with a reference in the external links section the ATF online learning theater.

This article is incomplete and needs updating.[edit]

This is the redirect page for a Wiki search for "straw buyer"...a term currently being bandied around when discussing the current mortgage crisis. For example, the Feds are beginning to indict mortgage brokers who they believe participated as straw buyers. I would appreciate it if someone who understands this concept (from the mortgage angle) would please help out by adding information about it to this article. Thank you kindly. Tell someone (talk) 23:53, 28 May 2009 (UTC)

BATFE on gun straw purchase[edit]

today 30 Sep 2009, I downloaded this from

Department of Justice, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, ATF P 5300.4 -
Federal Firearms Regulations Reference Guide 2005 (Revised - 9/05)] Page 165


Questions have arisen concerning the lawfulness of firearms purchases from licensees by persons who use a "straw purchaser" (another person) to acquire the firearms. Specifically, the actual buyer uses the straw purchaser to execute the Form 4473 purporting to show that the straw purchaser is the actual purchaser of the firearm. In some instances, a straw purchaser is used because the actual purchaser is prohibited from acquiring the firearm. That is to say, the actual purchaser is a felon or is within one of the other prohibited categories of persons who may not lawfully acquire firearms or is a resident of a State other than that in which the licensee's business premises is located. Because of his or her disability, the person uses a straw purchaser who is not prohibited from purchasing a firearm from the licensee. In other instances, neither the straw purchaser nor the actual purchaser is prohibited from acquiring the firearm.

In both instances, the straw purchaser violates Federal law by making false statements on Form 4473 to the licensee with respect to the identity of the actual purchaser of the firearm, as well as the actual purchaser's residence address and date of birth. The actual purchaser who utilized the straw purchaser to acquire a firearm has unlawfully aided and abetted or caused the making of the false statements. The licensee selling the firearm under these circumstances also violates Federal law if the licensee is aware of the false statements on the form. It is immaterial that the actual purchaser and the straw purchaser are residents of the State in which the licensee's business premises is located, are not prohibited from receiving or possessing firearms, and could have lawfully purchased firearms from the licensee.

An example of an illegal straw purchase is as follows: Mr. Smith asks Mr. Jones to purchase a firearm for Mr. Smith. Mr. Smith gives Mr. Jones the money for the firearm. If Mr. Jones fills out Form 4473, he violates the law by falsely stating that he is the actual buyer of the firearm. Mr. Smith also violates the law because he has unlawfully aided and abetted or caused the making of false statements on the form.

Where a person purchases a firearm with the intent of making a gift of the firearm to another person, the person making the purchase is indeed the true purchaser. There is no straw purchaser in these instances. In the above example, if Mr. Jones had bought a firearm with his own money to give to Mr. Smith as a birthday present, Mr. Jones could lawfully have completed Form 4473. The use of gift certificates would also not fall within the category of straw purchases. The person redeeming the gift certificate would be the actual purchaser of the firearm and would be properly reflected as such in the dealer's records.

Naaman Brown (talk) 19:47, 30 September 2009 (UTC)

Alcohol (and not worldwide) - the offence may be the seller, the buyer, the straw man, or a combination[edit]

I've added a {{worldwide}} tag to this because the examples are all from North America.

In particular, other jurisdictions may have many other age- or qualification-restricted purchases (e.g. fireworks, tobacco products, prescription-only medicines) besides alcohol. I don't see why alcohol is called out especially, and I would discourage creating an exhaustive list. There is also a grey market in goods intended to be purchased by middlemen at a discount to the retail price. I am not sure that any of these really belong in this article.

It should also be noted that in some jurisdictions it is an offence for the seller to sell something (to some class of people) but not an offence for those people to buy, or attempt to buy, it. For example, in England and Wales it is illegal to sell cigarettes to somebody under the age of 18, but not an offence for an over-18 straw man to buy it for someone under 18:

Merrick, Jane (1 December 2013). "Labour would make it illegal to buy cigarettes for children". The Independent. Retrieved 20 January 2014.

And according to Gloucestershire Trading Standards, it is not illegal for anyone to buy cigarettes:

"Gloucestershire Trading Standards - Business Advice - Tobacco and Children". Gloucestershire County Council. January 2013. Retrieved 20 January 2014.

but Sefton Trading Standards say it has been illegal to buy it under the age of 16 since 1908, rising to under 18 since 1 October 2007:

"Cigarette Sales" (PDF). Sefton Trading Standards. Sefton Trading Standards Newsletter. Spring 2007. Retrieved 20 January 2014.

(The Children and Young Persons (Protection from Tobacco) Act 1991 covers cases when underage purchase is not illegal when under the direction of a police officer or trading standards officer.)

Conversely, in that jurisdiction until about a decade ago it was an offence to buy, or attempt to buy, alcohol if under the age of 18 (except for consumption on licenced premises when purchased with a meal) but was not an offence to sell it. (It is now also an offence to sell it.)

As this shows, different jurisdictions will vary on whether the law is being broken by the straw man or the ultimate consumer or both, and even within that jurisdiction will vary on different goods or services. Si Trew (talk) 15:12, 20 January 2014 (UTC)

There has been no evidence presented here that straw purchases made for people who are legally allowed to purchase are illegal anywhere, and one example of a jurisdiction where they can be made even for people who cannot legally purchase. The article therefore should present the reality of general legality of straw purchases, rather than be anymore focused than it currently is on citing illegal examples and throwing straw purchase legality into doubt. Previous versions have wrongly implied straw purchases to be illegal and have consisted mostly of illegal examples and of citations of irrelevant US regulations. Unless more examples of departure from the norm of legality are cited, it would be better to simply mention and cite the one case of unqualified legality (i.e. legal even if end user cannot legally acquire) in the ocean of qualified legality (i.e. legal as long as end user can legally acquire) than to wrongly suggest that straw purchases are treated in a pluralistic variety of ways.

In fact, there may be more reason to believe that unqualified legality (such as in the UK case cited above) is the norm, since I do not see any evidence of a norm of qualified legality other than civil lawsuits settled out of court, and non-legislation regulatory code from ATF and other agencies that requires increased disclosure of information about the purchase but does not alter in any way the practice of straw purchasing itself.

The above-referenced ATF regulations do not even say that straw firearms purchases are illegal in cases when the end user is a felon or out-of-state resident. It would seem that as long as the straw buyer did not knowingly make false statements under penalty of perjury that his straw buying would be totally legal, although in such cases the end user might be charged with illegally acquiring firearms, independent of the fact that the acquisition happened through a straw purchaser. (talk) 18:15, 22 February 2015 (UTC)

Why supreme court ruling is irrelevant to this article[edit]

In Abramski vs US the SC ruled that since Abramski had agreed beforehand with his uncle to purchase the gun and then transfer it to his uncle, Abramski misrepresented the purchase as a sale when it was in fact a straw purchase. If it had been either a sale with the initial acquisition not made at the direction of the uncle, or an actual, uncompensated gift and had been given to his uncle without prior agreement that the uncle was going to be the end user of the firearm and that the uncle was going to fully compensate Abramski for the purchase price, Abramski would not have been lying by saying he was the end user. Because of the fact that he said on the ATF form that he was going to be the end user and that the uncle and he had at that time agreed to the transfer, the SC ruled 5-4 that it was a straw purchase made under false pretenses, a transfer between straw purchaser and end user, and not a legitimate sale. If it was a gift, a sale, or if it was a straw purchase and Abramski had indicated on the ATF form that it was a straw purchase, there would be no question of legality. Abramski claimed it was a sale and that he was not acting as an agent for his uncle. The affirming justices opined that he was indeed an agent. The dissenting justices argued not only that the affirming justices did not have basis to construe the transfer as a straw purchase rather than a sale and that there was not sufficient evidence to prove that Abramski and his uncle entered into an agency relationship, but also that the underlying intent or agreements of Abramski and his uncle were immaterial to the facts that Abramski purchased the gun and then sold it to his uncle, that the law was not written with a broad scope of exploring the underlying intent of purchasers, and therefore that Abramski did not make a false statement. None of the justices even touched upon the inherent legality of straw firearms purchasing nor on the legality of gifting firearms. It is a misrepresentation of the opinion to say that it made straw gun purchases illegal; in fact it had no bearing on straw purchase legality at all. The decision had no effect on gun purchasing law or purchasing law and the only outcome to speak of was that Abramski was brought up on charges of making false statements. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:32, 22 February 2015 (UTC)