A man who has had a past history of mental illness was able to buy several guns off the Internet. These were later used to shoot two police officers in New Hope city. He bought the guns on the Internet and asked another man to go pick them up for him.
How was he able to buy the guns in the first place? That is one of the most glaring problems in this whole case. First, he asked someone else to pick up the guns for him at the firearms dealer where the guns were shipped. That person, who had no prior criminal history nor was he barred from obtaining weapons. Next, when the accomplice went to go pick up the guns, he claimed that the bidder’s name was an online handle that he used, and preferred not to use his own. The dealer had no problem with this, figuring that many people use fake names online all the time.
Problems for Prosecutors
The difficulties that the prosecution may face for charging this crime is to prove that the accomplice was aware of the alleged perpetrator’s mental illness. This requires the intimate knowledge of another’s mental history, which may not have been readily shared with the accomplice. In a case involving straw purchases, the possibility of fraudulent purchases can increase.
Unlawfully possessing a gun license can leave a person facing the following penalties:
- Up to 1 year in jail
- Fines up to $3, 000
- Gross misdemeanor charges
In a state such as Minnesota, where there are many gun owners, it is important that the gun regulations are not only put in place but also enforced. Legal professionals are calling for stricter gun laws, especially to combat straw purchases such as the case above. One of these measures is to make sure dealers are scrutinizing potential buyers more closely. In fact, the dealer involved in this case has resolved to no longer sell guns to those who are using online pseudonyms.
Bringing the Case the Federal Level
The U.S. Attorney Office is not weighing in much on this particular case or the gun laws involved. Certainly, however, there are federal crimes to contend with. Federal gun charges can mean up to 10 years in federal prison. Accomplices can also be charged for helping another obtain a gun illegally, such as in the case above. Exploring this avenue can be beneficial for prosecutors.
For further updates on this case or to speak with a Minneapolis criminal defense lawyer, contact Caplan & Tamburino Law Firm, P.A. today!