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Purchasing a Firearm?

Before an individual is able to purchase a firearm, they must complete a firearms transaction record form.  One of the main reasons, out of a few, that individuals are denied the ability to purchase a firearm, and are eventually charged criminally, is for providing inaccurate information on the application form.  These forms are several pages in length, and must be filled out accurately in order to purchase a firearm, and more importantly, avoid potential criminal charges.  If you provide inaccurate information, or lie on the form, then you may be charged criminally and prosecuted for unsworn falsification to authorities, Section 4904 under the criminal code.  Unsworn falsification to authorities is graded as a misdemeanor offense.

One may also be charged with a violation of Section 6111 of the criminal code, which pertains to the transfer and sale of firearms, and constitutes a felony.  Section 6111 states that an individual commits a felony if they knowingly and intentionally make a materially false oral or written statement in connection with the purchase, delivery or transfer of a firearm.  Although the statute requires an individual to knowingly and intentionally make a false statement, in Commonwealth v. Taylor, 63 A.3d 327 (Pa. Super. 2013) the Pennsylvania Superior Court found that the Defendant’s argument regarding ignorance or confusion was insufficient.  This decision was based on the facts presented in that particular case, and under certain circumstances, this may be a viable argument.

Many individuals who are charged criminally in these situations are charged under both sections of the criminal code, Section 4904 and Section 6111.  An individual must be cautious while completing the forms, and read each question carefully.  The most difficult question, and the one that confuses most individuals, pertains to the applicant’s criminal record.  For example, one question asks whether the applicant has “ever been convicted in any court of a felony, or any other crime for which the judge could have imprisoned you for more than one year, even if you received a shorter sentence including probation.”  Individuals may answer this question incorrectly if they have a prior criminal record.  This is largely due to the word “felony” appearing in bold, and individuals focusing on the sentence they actually received, rather than properly focusing on what sentence they could have received.  Further, the Federal application states in fine print that this question does not pertain to State misdemeanors punishable by imprisonment of two years or less.  Therefore, an applicant must analyze the potential penalty that they could have received as a result of their prior conviction.  There are also numerous other provisions that may disqualify an individual from purchasing a firearm, and if filled out improperly, may result in criminal charges.  Contact one of our attorneys if you have any questions regarding the firearms transaction form, or if you have been charged with an offense.

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