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Officials warn of the dangers of gun gifting

Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013 7:33 PM
Last updated Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013 8:01 AM
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In the industry of holiday gift giving, federal officials and licensed dealers often refer to firearms as a “retail phenomenon.”

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Steven Fishman, of Sidney's Department Store & Uniform, holds a Henry Boy Scouts of America 22 caliber rifle that is often purchased to give as a gift Tuesday afternoon December 3, 2013 in Augusta.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Steven Fishman, of Sidney's Department Store & Uniform, holds a Henry Boy Scouts of America 22 caliber rifle that is often purchased to give as a gift Tuesday afternoon December 3, 2013 in Augusta.

Wesley Brown
Twitter: @mega_chron
E-mail | 706-823-3221

“It’s the one present under the tree that’s not only a gift, but also a liability,” said Steven Fishman, president of Sidney’s Department Store in downtown Augusta.

With firearm sales holding steady nationwide, federal officials and licensed dealers, such as Fishman, are encouraging the 144,000 Americans who FBI records show were approved to buy a firearm on Black Friday to document any transfers of ownership made during the holidays.

If they don’t, they could be held responsible for any weapons that are lost, stolen or possessed illegally by minors or convicted felons, said Regina Milledge, a federal investigator at the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ Atlanta field division.

“If you want to give a firearm to someone as a gift, then you have that right, as long as you know that person by law is allowed to possess and own a firearm,” Milledge said. “If you are aware they are not allowed to own or purchase a firearm, then you could definitely be held criminally accountable.”

Under federal law, the owner of a legitimately purchased gun is the person who buys a firearm from a licensed dealer, even if they intend to gift the item to a friend or relative.

“It’s what we call in a black-and-white world, a gray area,” Fishman said of U.S. gun laws.

Since 2011, holiday sales of both guns and ammunition have soared, with the FBI processing more than 425,000 background checks on the past three Black Fridays combined, according to federal data.

Milledge said the ATF only regulates licensed dealers and recommended families and friends gifting firearms to document the exchange by drafting a receipt – signed and dated by each party – that details the gun’s brand, model, serial number, caliber and type.

Fishman, who said December is his store’s busiest month for firearm sales, agreed that it is probably a good idea to keep documents such as a bill of sale in case something happens to the weapon. “It’s better to cover yourself, because if a gifted firearm is sold or stolen, it’s likely to come back to you,” he said.

Milledge said federal law prohibits the possession of firearms by convicted felons and generally requires people younger than age 18 to get written permission from a parent or guardian to have a handgun for limited purposes such as employment, ranching, farming, target practice or hunting.

Milledge said the ATF tracks stolen or lost firearms through a three-stage process that starts with the manufacturer, moves to the licensed dealer, and then to the purchaser or transferee.

From that point, the investigation begins because the first known purchaser is the end of the trace process.

“That does not mean you are the current owner, but you might get a phone call from the ATF on where the firearm is now,” she said.

Milledge said the ATF recommends anyone wanting to give a firearm as a present to consider purchasing a gift certificate for it.

“That way the person will get the exact firearm he or she wants, and there’s no question about who is the actual buyer of the firearm,” she said.

Black Friday Firearm Background Checks

Total – 144,758

6 percent under 2012

12 percent over 2011

Comments (9) Add comment
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Riverman1 12/04/13 - 03:30 am
"Milledge said the ATF

"Milledge said the ATF recommends anyone wanting to give a firearm as a present to consider purchasing a gift certificate for it."

I think it would be best for the ATF not to ask citizens to limit their constitutional rights. You have the right to give a gun as a gift is the bottom line without making the recipient sign anything. If Ms. Milledge believes you can be held responsible for guns that you have sold or given to someone else, that's up to her, but no court is going to find any wrong doing in such a transfer if the person receiving the gun can legally own a gun. It may very well be the person giving the gun or the recipient doesn't want the government to know anything about it. That's his prerogative.

dickworth1 12/04/13 - 05:23 am
agree on guns

I agree with Riverman1 on his statement.

Frank I
Frank I 12/04/13 - 11:56 am
but Riverman

the government wants to know.. they want to follow your paper trail to where the guns are.

Riverman1 12/04/13 - 12:28 pm
Frank, yep. It could be I

Frank, yep. It could be I would want to get a bill of sale or something from the person I'm giving it to, but then again, I may not. I don't want government telling me I have to. I take constitutional rights seriously.

The implication from the government official is if the gun is later stolen and used in a crime I could be held responsible. I think whether I was guilty of using the gun in a crime would be determined by the courts who recognize my 2nd amendment rights even if I don't have paperwork. Local police would use common sense also. There is no requirement for a bill of sale.

Frank I
Frank I 12/04/13 - 12:49 pm
I concur

I concur on this matter good sir.. I have no interest in sharing with the government, at any level, where my guns may have come from, gone to, or for that matter if I even have any..

Watermedic 12/04/13 - 01:19 pm

Definitely unconstitutional!!

While there is a paper trail on guns, we do not technically "register" them.

The only place in the south that requires declaration of weapons are military bases and that is only for service members. Civilians still get form 9243 but do not list the firearms. It gets approved based on a federal background check.

Riverman1 12/04/13 - 02:41 pm
Keep in mind, the founding

Keep in mind, the founding fathers believed armed citizens gave protection from a government that didn't recognize the rights of its people. If the government had every gun owner and his address on file, that would lessen the protection from an unconstitutional government that guns provide. Beware of such innocent sounding opinions from federal officials such as the ATF person voiced.

oldredneckman96 12/04/13 - 06:57 pm

I will follow every letter of the law there is as soon as Obama starts to follow one, pick one, any one!

nocnoc 12/04/13 - 07:19 pm
Gun Gifts can be a dangerous problem

for future Government confiscation laws, that is.
Currently Family & Private sells are totally legal.

But we all know where Obama & his followers hearts "lie". (not a mispelling)

robert2410 12/04/13 - 08:11 pm
I would warn of the dangers

I would warn of the dangers of not gun gifting. When the govt money runs out, all the decent people are going to need one.

gargoyle 12/04/13 - 08:23 pm
The top court will soon weigh in on this issue

Cases have been made about the legality of buying a gift gun and some DA's are frothing at the mouth in hopes that the Supreme Court find them illegal. The Anti-Gun folks get giddy about the prospects of limiting the sales of guns by making it illegal for a gun owner to sell or gift without a FFL. If this works They will try find a way way to limit FFL's making the Second Amendment a mute point.

Brad Owens
Brad Owens 12/05/13 - 07:00 am
That is a great looking Henry..

That Henry rifle is super nice, would make a GREAT gift ...

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