Purchasing a firearm is a seemingly easy task. You go to the store, shop around, pick a piece, and hand over the cash. The government, though, has added an additional two part wrinkle. First, there is federal form known as “ATF Form 4473.” Second, that form gets submitted here in PA through PICS (PA Instant Check System) or nationally via NICS (National Instant Check System). Predictably, PICS funnels into NICS. Don’t answer any question incorrectly, or correctly, but improperly, or you will likely be charged with at least two charges: “Making a materially false statement in the transfer of a firearm: a Felony of the Third Degree” and “Unsworn Falsification to Authorities: a Misdemeanor of the Third Degree.”
Form 4473 is a questionnaire and the questions contained therein are confusing and sometimes even contradictory.
Take for example question 11.a “Are you the actual transferee/buyer of the firearm(s) listed on this form?” Warning: You are not the actual buyer if you are acquiring the firearm(s) on behalf of another person. If you are not the actual buyer, the dealer cannot transfer the firearm(s) to you. (See Instructions for Question 11.a) The instruction portion referenced contradicts this on its face: “Question 11.a Actual Transferee/Buyer: … You are also the actual transferee/buyer if you are legitimately purchasing the firearm as a gift for a third party.”
Take for example question 11b &c: We are treating them together because of the similar nature of the questions, namely whether you are currently under indictment of (“B”) or have ever been convicted of (“C”) a “Felony.” The term “Felony,” as here, is highlighted. Confusingly this one term “Felony,” actually means any felony punishable by more than one year of incarceration or any misdemeanor punishable by more than two years. The word “Misdemeanor” is neither present nor highlighted on the face of the question.
We have only gone through the first three questions and already this form is highly confusing. This is troublesome when one considers the consequences of screwing this form up; namely being charged with a felony. Moreso, there are still questions 11.d – 11.l and questions 12-24 left to answer before submitting this form.
Don’t take a chance. This form is a legal form. If you are going to fill it out, you should consider calling us and having one of our attorneys complete the form with you. This could save you time, money, stress, and freedom. Protect yourself.
The Pittsburgh Criminal Law Group has experienced attorneys ready to assist you in filling out the forms necessary to legally purchase a firearm. We are also prepared to help if you are already facing charges regarding the falsification of a firearm application.