Campaign focuses on ending gun ‘straw purchases’

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – When the two killers in the San Bernardino, California shooting went on their rampage, they used guns purchased for them by a friend. This is called a “straw purchase,” and there’s an effort to crack down on it in the Tampa Bay area.

“That’s a prime example on the national level that people can relate to. People can understand where this could possibly lead to,” Regina Lombardo with Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms said.

The ATF, with support from the firearm industry, launched a “Don’t Lie for the Other Guy” campaign.

“When a criminal knows he can’t pass a background check or a firearms trafficker wants to avoid having their name associated with a transaction then they recruit or pay somebody to do go into a dealer and buy the gun for them,” Lawrence Keane with the National Shooting Sports Foundation said.

If the straw purchaser lies on federal forms he or she could face up to 10 years in prison. Al Cochran, who legally bought a gun Wednesday, welcomes this attempt to stop firearms from ending up in the wrong hands.

‘I don’t mind the background check on any weapon. I think it is important if somebody is buying a gun that they are an honest citizen,” Cochran said.

St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway joined other high-ranking law enforcement officers in saying the campaign will lead to change.

“You do hear it a lot on the street when you arrest someone. They’ll say, ‘i got this gun from someone else,’ and you know they are a convicted felon, so you know they didn’t go to a store and purchase that gun,” Holloway said.

During the past two years, officials have prosecuted 124 straw purchase cases in Tampa alone. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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