Straw Purchases - what are they

Posted by Dustin Howard on Jul 9th 2022

Straw Purchases - what are they

Simply put, a straw purchase is when one person buys a gun for another person who is not allowed to own a gun.

Repercussions to buyer: making a straw purchase for a firearm on behalf of someone else is a federal crime.

Repercussions to FFL: possible revocation of license.

This administration has established a “zero tolerance” policy for FFL’s who willfully or even mistakenly bend or break some existing rules and has tasked the ATF to enforce it..and they are.

To be fair, these rules have been in place for a long time and come as a surprise to no one; the only change is the “zero tolerance” audits leading to revocation of the FFL, in lieu of a warning, fine, or other punishment that may have been previous enforcement methods, and they are doing this RETROACTIVELY, so even a past occurrence from years ago can trigger a Notice of FFL Revocation.

Number 1 on the zero tolerance list is:

  • transferring a firearm to a person whom an FFL (or really, any sell or or transferor) has REASONABLE cause to believe is a prohibited person (as listed on Form 4473 at question 21. b – l), which to any FFL with common sense, includes STRAW PURCHASES referred to in 21.a.

If a straw purchase is suspected to be taking place, any FFL cannot and and should not process the sale of a firearm.

SOME indicators of a straw purchase:

  • if Person 1 does all the shopping, questions, and handling of firearms, but Person 2 fills out the paperwork, this is the clearest form of straw buying, especially when Person 2 has minimal participation in the selection process
  • When payment time comes, the payment method gets transferred between persons, like a handoff of cash, or even Person 1 debit/credit card being used while Person 2 completes the application; this could just be loaning the money between friends/family, or this could be one sign among many of a straw purchase
  • Purchasing a firearm “out of caliber”; while not a hard fast rule, but for example, a 105 pound, slightly built person would have a difficult time handling a 44 magnum, so why is that person buying it?

Understand that an FFL does not have to have proof of a straw purchase, just suspicion, and that is enough for them to not process the purchase/transfer.


Hell no, it does not.

Despite what the media tells you, all firearms purchased online must still be shipped an FFL in your area to process the 4473 application and paperwork. You must do this onsite at their location.

When you purchase online, all this does is transfer all the paperwork risk from the online seller to your local FFL. This is why it appears “cheaper” to buy online; they maintain little risk, they only transfer FFL to FFL. They maintain no staff to provide you customer service, they do not maintain 4473 transfer records, as per federal law that was recently changed to lifetime (it was 20 years), and in most cases, when you have a problem with your purchase, they’ve washed their hands of it.

The Online FFL Seller has transferred all risk and responsibility of the straw purchase potential to the local transfer FFL.



Do not.

Don’t fucking try it.


If you are a prohibited possessor, get a good lawyer that specializes in the 2A like Trent Woods, and get your rights restored.

If you’re falsely denied, appeal it and fight. Then if that fail, circle back to getting a good lawyer.

But don’t try a straw purchase and risk someone else getting a felony offense for you.