What is Gun Trafficking?

Posted on in Federal Crimes

Illinois federal gun crime defense attorneyIn response to a sharp increase in gun deaths across the country, the Department of Justice this week launched a multi-jurisdiction strike force to target illegal gun traffickers. Officials hope cutting off the supply of illegal weapons will result in fewer gun deaths.

With 19,410 victims killed in 2020, last year saw about a 20 percent increase in gun-related murders, according to the Gun Violence Archives, an organization that tracks gun violence across the country. Almost seven months into the year, 2021 has already seen 11,635 people die from gun violence.

The Justice Department said the strike force is part of a larger comprehensive strategy introduced by the attorney general and president earlier this year. For the strike force, the feds will work with local and state officials, and while the entire country is fair game, they will primarily focus on regional areas like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, the Bay area, and the District of Columbia.

With the influx of resources being directed at the subject, you may be wondering, what is gun trafficking?

Gun Trafficking Laws

It might come as a surprise, but there are no federal laws specifically prohibiting gun trafficking, but rather an assortment of other laws often used to prosecute gun traffickers. Typically, gun trafficking starts with a firearm being bought legally, meaning the purchaser goes into a gun store, passes a background check, and successfully buys the gun. Then, that legal gun is either stolen or sold onto the black market where it becomes an “illegal” gun.

The life of an illegal gun has many paths. A gun that is used in a crime is often discarded, sold, or given away. During the exchange, it might be transported to another city or state, the serial number might be filed off, or it might be used in another crime. There is no typical path for an illegal gun. It is usually just used illegally until it is recovered by police.

In order to prove you have been involved in trafficking guns, law enforcement will have to uncover evidence of those complicated exchanges. If they do, you could be charged with something like making a false statement to acquire a firearm, making a false statement to a federally licensed firearm dealer, or selling guns without a license.

While the first two of those charges are fairly straightforward, the third one is not. The private sale of a firearm is permitted under federal law as long as you and the buyer meet two criteria: you are both legally allowed to own a firearm and you live in the same state. In Illinois, state law also requires that both parties have a valid Firearm Owner's Identification (FOID) card. However, you cannot conduct a private sale with a resident of another state. In order to complete that sale, you must ship the firearm to a licensed gun store, which is authorized to initiate a background check on the buyer. If you are charged with selling a gun illegally or another crime associated with gun trafficking, you could face penalties under both federal and state law.

Contact a Chicago, IL Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer

Gun trafficking is a serious and often complicated offense, so if you are accused of trafficking guns or federal gun crimes, you should contact an experienced Illinois federal criminal defense attorney. Call the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel at 312-629-0669 for a free consultation today.



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