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Straw purchases already banned

The letter regarding straw buyers ("Stop 'straw buyers' from purchasing guns," April 15) contains a major factual error: a straw purchase is already punishable, under federal law, carrying a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. Federal firearms licensees can also be held accountable for knowingly abetting a straw purchase. It is highly disingenuous to suggest that one can legally buy any number of firearms with the purpose of transferring them to a prohibited person, as doing so has been illegal since the passage of the Gun Control Act in 1968.

Further, prosecutions for straw purchases are generally left to the local district attorney, and federal gun prosecutions have declined in recent years. This can and frequently does result in a low conviction rate and lenient sentencing. Aggressive prosecution of gun crimes by the U.S. Department of Justice under existing law would likely be more effective than enacting new statutes.

I would suggest, however, that the focus be turned away from guns specifically, and toward violent crime in general. Murder by knife or fist is no less heinous than murder by gun.

Clifton Jenkins-Houk

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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