PA Attorney General Tom Corbett and Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham have devised a joint task force about a year-and-a-half ago called force called the Gun Violence Task Force (“GVTF”). Within the GVTF, there are veteran police officers, Attorney General Special Agents, and Assistant District Attorneys who work on gun cases, day in and day out. Part of their job is to prosecute people who don’t transfer the ownership of a firearm the proper way.
For example, if an individual wants to transfer ownership of a handgun, that person can only lawfully do so at a licensed firearms dealer. The dealer will then conduct the proper background checks with the Pennsylvania State Police and complete the proper paperwork. If you don’t transfer the firearm the right way, you can face stiff penalties. For example, a person who makes a simple violation of the proper method of transferring a handgun can face up to five years in prison for a second-degree misdemeanor. In reality, most people with no prior record will be looking at probation for a first violation. However, any second or subsequent offense for an illegal sale or transfer is subject to a mandatory minimum jail sentence of five years of incarceration! Therefore, there’s a big difference in the punishment for a first and second violation.
Therefore, if you have any questions about how to lawfully transfer a firearm, contact a licensed dealer. They know the process, because they do it every day and are the only people permitted by law to conduct the transfer.
If law enforcement or the GVTF has contacted you regarding an investigation, or if they tell you that they “just want to ask you a few questions”, remember that you don’t have to talk to them. You can call an attorney first, and make sure that if you do wish to speak to law enforcement your statements will not be used against you in court. The choice to speak with law enforcement is yours, and many people speak to them thinking that because they made an honest mistake or that if they cooperate they will not be prosecuted. This is often an unwise choice.
If you are accused of unlawfully selling or transferring a firearm, of if law enforcement “just wants to ask you a few questions” feel free to call us for legal assistance.